Montana No. 2 in nation for wildlife vs. car collisions

From the Billings Gazette, Sep 20, 2016:

“Montana has the distinction of ranking No. 2 in the nation for auto versus deer, elk or moose collisions, according to a report by State Farm insurance company based on the number of claims filed.

State Farm calculated the odds at 1 in 58 that a Montana driver will collide with one of the large ungulates and file an insurance claim for damage. West Virginia took the top spot in the United States with a 1 in 41 chance of an auto striking a deer. Coming in third was Pennsylvania with a 1 in 67 chance.

Wyoming moved up to No. 8 in this year’s statistics with a 1 in 85 chance. According to State Farm the national average cost per claim for 2015-2016 was $3,995.08, down just slightly from $4,135 in 2014-2015.

“We know there is an increased risk of collision with deer around dawn and dusk, and also during the October-December breeding season,” said Chris Mullen, director of Technology Research at State Farm, in a press release. “However, drivers should be engaged, alert and on the lookout at all times, because you never know when you may need to react to a deer or any other obstacle that may suddenly be in your path.”

Montana has about 400,000 fewer licensed drivers than West Virginia.

The high incidence of wildlife versus auto collisions in Montana came as no surprise to Lori Ryan, a public information officer for the Montana Department of Transportation. She said that Highway 83, which divides the Swan and Mission mountain ranges in northwestern Montana, is well known for its excess of wildlife versus automobile collisions.

The evidence is also found in the number of carcasses that MDT crews pick up along the state’s highways. Between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2014, more than 29,500 animals were picked up. The majority were taken from along Interstate 90, more than 4,000, followed by Highway 2 across the northern tier of the state and Highway 93 near Missoula. More than 21,000 white-tailed deer were counted in the tally.

The high number of such large wildlife killed on Montana roadways prompted a legislator to carry and pass a bill that took effect in 2013, allowing people to pick up the animals their autos have struck to try and save some of the meat for consumption. The roadkill law requires those folks to log on to a computer to acquire a permit for the meat. In the first year, more than 180 people claimed roadkill, based on the number of permits issued.”

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