Deer-Vehicle Collisions Down in 2005

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The number of deer-vehicle collisions reported in the state last year was down 11 percent from 2004 and the lowest since 2001, according to statistics released by the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

Last year, 3,766 deer-vehicle incidents were tallied, down from 4,252 in 2004. According to DOT statistics, this was the first time a decline has occurred since 1996.

"This tells us a couple things," said Randy Kreil, wildlife chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. "In some areas the deer population is declining to management goals, and motorists are probably exercising more caution, especially during months and times of day when deer are most active."

The Game and Fish Department has been aggressive in its approach to deer management by issuing a record number of deer licenses the past five years. Also, reminders are issued each spring and fall cautioning drivers to be aware of deer, especially in areas where deer crossing signs are posted.

"We're always glad to see a reduction in the number of crashes," said Dawn Olson, manager, NDDOT Office of Traffic Safety. "Any reduction in crashes helps to proportionately reduce instances of bodily injuries and/or fatalities. This is a step in the right direction toward the department's goal of 'Toward Zero Deaths,' as any disabling injury or death is one too many."

Olson commented that defensive driving techniques can also help to prevent deer-vehicle crashes. Drivers should slow down during deer migration seasons, be especially watchful in areas where roadways border fields, thickets and places where deer may feed or take cover, and during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk when it is especially difficult to see deer emerging onto the roadway.