Don't veer for deer: Deer-vehicle crashes 'at their peak right now' in Minnesota

A photo shared by the Benton County Sheriff's Office showing front-end damage to a vehicle that hit a deer.

Don’t veer for deer: That’s the message from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety following a number of vehicle crashes across the state.

“Every fall, we usually see an uptick in deer-related crashes,” said Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Gordon Shank. “I think, just the fact that it’s that season." 

Deer-vehicle crashes are at their peak right now. The State Patrol posted a warning to social media this week after troopers in West Central and Central Minnesota responded to three separate crashes just before 7 a.m.

“It’s hard to say that we’ve seen an uptick, per se,” said Shank. “But we have seen deer crashes. We’ve responded to deer injury crashes. We know that they do happen.”

Nearly a month ago, a station wagon was totaled after colliding with a deer on Hwy. 212 in Eden Prairie. The driver and passengers were unharmed.

Two weeks ago, in the west Twin Cities metro area, there was another deer-vehicle crash that startled the driver and left his car a total wreck.

“The impacts are pretty severe,” said Joel Hansen, of Twin City Auto Body. “We’re seeing an average of $3,000-$8,000 in repair costs.”

Hansen says, so far this fall, they’ve seen more than a 20 percent increase in deer hits.

“Just today, I’ve written four estimates on deer impacts and my sister store down in Northfield has written five today,” Hansen added.

In 2018, there were more than 1,200 vehicle deer crashes in Minnesota. Dozens of people were injured and six were killed.

Authorities reminded drivers to be on the lookout.

“Just be aware that they are out there,” Shank said. “Make sure you keep your eyes up, distraction free, buckle up. Watch your speeds, especially in those areas where you know there’s a high volume of deer.”

In just the last five years, 18 people have lost their lives from deer-vehicle crashes. Drivers are urged to be cautious, especially between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. in the evening, when deer are most active.