Deer Rankings Rigged?

By Beacon Staff

Montana makes plenty of lists. Its cities are often ranked in glossy magazines and touted as “most desirable places.” And for those of us who have lived here for any stretch of time, the response to the accolades is a collective shrug. But a recent list caught my eye, and not because we were on it, but because we weren’t ranked higher.

Montana ranked seventh in the nation for the likelihood of hitting a deer on the road. Seventh! Six states’ drivers hit deer more often than we do, according to State Farm Insurance. West Virginia topped the list with “an estimated one in 57 chance of hitting one (deer) in the next 12 months.”

I’ve been told that West Virginia is littered with deer, and it’s certainly home to far more people than Montana. But one in 57 sure seems like a low collision rate to be ranked No. 1. Either that, or my Montana friends are lying. And the dents in the front ends of their pickups are due to wayward driving instead of wandering deer.

Each fall, as hunters ascend into the backcountry, it’s common for them to clip a deer en route to bag one. I’ve had a handful of close calls over the past 10 years. Luckily, I avoided them. Lucky, because if I hit a doe while driving my sedan it would likely land on my lap.

Here’s the list of the top ten states – Iowa? Seriously? – where drivers and deer collide:

1) West Virginia
2) Michigan
3) Wisconsin
4) Pennsylvania
5) Iowa
6) Arkansas
7) Montana
8) South Dakota
9) North Dakota
10) Minnesota