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Less Deer-Vehicle Collisions on North Dakota Roads - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Less Deer-Vehicle Collisions on North Dakota Roads

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The North Dakota State Highway Patrol is seeing less people involved in deer-vehicle collisions statewide compared to a year ago. The Game and Fish Department says that could finally be the indicator that deer numbers have significantly dropped.

Except for the occasional raccoon, rabbit or skunk, you probably have not seen many deer along the sides of the roads, and Jim Foss, owner of the The Foss Shop, an autobody shop in Casselton is seeing the effects.

"Three, four years ago we'd probably see one a, one a week, and now we probably see one every couple months," says Foss. He says in the last year, work has shifted, allowing business to not take a big hit explaining, "We've been fortunate to have plenty of collision and that take it's place."

But he adds almost all body shops he has talked with have seen a significant drop in deer hits.

Though it is not a huge surprise for the game and fish, as it aimed to reduce the herd. "Once the deer herd was reduced, most likely you were gonna seen a lot of different visual reminders," says Game and Fish Biologist Doug Leier.

The numbers from the North Dakota Highway Patrol back this. In 2008, when the deer population was highest, there were about 385 deer-vehicle collisions from January to the end of May. Last year there were 280, and this year there have been 220.

"If you're a deer hunter and you liked having three tags or four tags or a pocket full of tags, you probably wanted to see that deer herd stay a little bit higher," says Leier.

But he says it is also about the other stakeholders. The farmers that had deer in their feed supplies, insurance companies and people that hit the deer need consideration. He says, "You think about somebody that's been injured or a loss of life due to a car-deer collision...that really puts it in perspective."

While business has fallen a little for Foss and the other auto body shops, he is not concerned. "You can't rely on just one specific area. You need the deer his, the collision, the windshields, the, you know, every aspect of it."

This year there are just under 60,000 deer tags available in North Dakota. That is the fewest available since 1983.

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