BELOIT - The likelihood motorists in Wisconsin will hit a deer have increased for the second straight year, according to an annual report published by State Farm Insurance.
New claims data compiled by State Farm shows drivers have a 1 in 72 chance of hitting a deer, with 58,000 road kill incidents expected this year. The state ranks fourth in the nation on the insurance agency's list of deer collisions.
In 2017, Wisconsin ranked fifth in the nation.
According to State Farm, chances of hitting a deer in the state increased by just over half a percent in 2018 compared to 2017.
The riskiest time for deer is from October to December when the weather cools and deer become more active.
Rock County's deer population grew to around 7,000 deer, according to estimated fall deer population estimates from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The density of the deer population is also ranked in the lowest category, between four and 18 deer per square mile. The population is up 1,000 deer from 2017, according to the DNR.
Cooler weather signals the beginning of the deer mating season, and temperatures across the state are beginning to finally drop.
The white-tail deer population in Wisconsin is estimated at 1.34 million, up 14 percent from 2015, while the population is expected to increase to 1.37 million by the year's end, according to the DNR.
To avoid collisions, State Farm recommends motorists slow down between dawn and dusk, which are peak hours for deer to cross roadways. Motorists also should pay attention to deer crossing signs; brake without swerving if you see a deer; use high beam lights unless there is oncoming traffic and remain focused on the road.
In the event of a crash, motorists have the option of notifying DNR to keep the deer for meat. Drivers should call 608-267-7691 to register the road kill, but can leave the scene with the soon-to-be venison in tow. If over $1,000 of damage is caused, drivers should fill out a self-report with the Rock County Sheriff's Office.