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Although the Probability Has Increased, Hawai?i Drivers Continue to be Least Likely to Hit a Deer

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T. R. Shankar Raman
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Wikimedia Commons

Hawai?i drivers continue to be the least likely in the country to hit a deer with their vehicle. But in the last three years, the likelihood of hitting a deer in the state has gone up. 

Every year, State Farm Insurance calculates the odds of drivers filing a claim due to hitting a deer, elk or moose. The top three states where deer collisions are most likely to take place are West Virginia, Montana, and Pennsylvania.

Ranking dead last is Hawai?i.

According to the report, Hawai?i drivers have a one in 6,400 chance of hitting a deer with their vehicle. But in 2015, the likelihood of hitting a deer was one in 19,000. To give a little context, the chance of being attacked by a shark in the U.S. is one in 11.5 million.

One reason for the increasing likelihood could be a growing deer population. But the state Department of Land and Natural Resources' Division of Forestry and Wildlife says tracking it is a bit of a challenge.

"We really can only do good estimates or anything like population surveys on our own DOFAW lands," says Jim Cogswell, a wildlife manager with the DLNR. "The population has probably been growing, but we don't have any estimates on how fast that growth rate would be."

Now, not all drivers in the state are likely to come across a deer in the road. That's because the two species of deer, Axis and Blacktail, are only present in two counties - Maui and Kaua?i. But according to Cogswell, controlling the population of deer in the state is pretty important.

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Credit Anvesh Sharma / Wikimedia Commons
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Wikimedia Commons
Axis deer

"Deer, especially in large populations, can be very damaging for the environment. They can threaten endangered species. Especially with plants, they're very succulent, and the deer love to eat them.

They also cause a great deal of erosion in high numbers. So that would impact watershed and aquifers. They can also spread invasive species."

Another possible reason for the increasing likelihood of a deer collision could be more vehicles on Hawai?i roads. But if you're wondering if Jim has ever heard of any deer collisions in the state.

"I have not. I've heard more instances of people hitting goats."

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at charlow@hawaiipublicradio.org or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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