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Deer-vehicle collisions common in Pennsylvania

| Monday, Dec. 17, 2007

Pennsylvania's traditional two-week deer season has ended, but more deer still will die this winter.

Unfortunately, more than a few of those will go to waste after being killed by cars and trucks.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there are an estimated 1 1/2 million deer-vehicle collisions each year in the United States. There are about 32 million whitetails in the country, which suggests one of every 21 deer will be involved in a collision.

There are serious costs associated with that. Beyond the loss of the deer, the crashes are responsible for an estimated 200 human fatalities, 29,000 injuries and more than $1.1 billion in property damage each year, according to Utah State University researchers.

Deer-vehicle collisions are a problem across the country, but they're particularly common in Pennsylvania.

Neither the Pennsylvania Game Commission nor any other state agency compiles a comprehensive list of deer-vehicle collisions for the commonwealth. State Farm Insurance Co. does monitor the number of deer-vehicle collisions on a state-by-state basis, however, using insurance claim reports.

"This data may or may not be completely accurate for a given state, but it is the best data available to track annual deer-vehicle collisions within a state and compare collisions among states," said Kip Adams, director of education and outreach in the northern region for the Quality Deer Management Association.

Some of State Farm's numbers really stand out:

• Pennsylvania has led the nation in deer-vehicle collisions for four of the past five years by averaging about 99,000 per year. Michigan led the nation once and has been second four of the past five years by averaging about 93,000 deer-vehicle collisions annually.

• No other state averages even half as many deer-vehicle collisions as Pennsylvania and Michigan.

• Pennsylvania leads the nation in the average number of deer-vehicle collisions per mile of road, with motorists here hitting one deer for every 1.22 miles of public road. Maryland ranks second with one deer hit for every 1.23 miles of road.

• West Virginia leads this list with a deer-vehicle collision for every 57 vehicle registrations. West Virginia drivers are 5,000 times more likely to hit a deer than get struck by lightning during the next 12 months. Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the country with one deer-vehicle collision for every 100 vehicle registrations.

Strange deer

An unusual deer was creating quite a stir prior to the just-ended firearms deer season.

A nine-point piebald buck -- colored brown and white, like a pinto horse -- was seen running around state game lands 108 in Cambria County before the season opened.

Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife conservation officer Larry Olsavsky was among those who saw it several times, and he even managed to get photos of it.

There's been no word on whether anyone got the deer.

Triple trophy

When Gary Balog of Norvelt shot a 130-pound bear during the state's two-day archery hunt, it put the topper on what was a special hunting season.

Earlier, during the archery deer season, Balog had killed a five-point buck in Westmoreland County. He also bagged a turkey in Indiana County.

That was the sixth time Balog has recorded such a triple crown in one year.

Lake drawdown

Raccoon Lake, the centerpiece of Raccoon Creek State Park in Beaver County, is being drawn down 4 to 6 feet for maintenance purposes.

That work should be completed by mid-January, if not sooner, park officials said. The lake isn't scheduled to be stocked with trout again until Feb. 22, so the work isn't expected to cause any problems in that way.

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