GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — A Green Bay collision center is seeing an increased number of vehicles with damage from deer-related crashes this season.
"This year was probably 30% to 40% more than last year," said Ray Vande Velden, MJ Collision Center owner.
There are a handful of cars currently being worked on at MJ Collision Center following deer crashes. Vande Velden said the severity of damage can vary, from dented bumpers to total front end damage. He said they've seen costs range from $500 to $15,000.
"Usually before the gun deer season it kind of ramps up," Vande Velden said. "A couple weeks ago, a month ago, we started getting a few more phone calls. Then after that, it turned into one or two calls a day."
With the increase in calls, Vande Velden said the shop is scheduling repairs a month out.
There were 16,547 deer-related collisions across the state in 2020, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. County numbers show Fond du Lac, Manitowoc, Outagamie, Shawano and Sheboygan Counties each had more than 500 crashes last year. Sheboygan County had the highest amount in Northeast Wisconsin with 713 total crashes, followed by Shawano with 644 total crashes. Preliminary data shows 11,648 deer-related crashes throughout the state so far this year.
Mark Kantola, WisDOT regional communications manager, said the key to avoiding a deer collision is to pay attention and stay alert.
"Just in the matter of a few seconds you can travel the length of a football field and not see the road in front of you if you look down at a text," Kantola said. "Deer jump out at you fast, especially on some of these county and local roads where the brush and the roads hide them very well from your sight. You need to keep both eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel."
Kantola said there may be times when a collision is unavoidable.
"Break firmly and stay in your lane. Don't swerve," Kantola said. "Swerving can result in loss of control of the vehicle, going off the side of the road and into a ditch, striking an object that doesn't move."
WisDOT suggests these additional tips to avoid a deer collision:
- Slow down, pay attention and buckle up.
- Be especially cautious in the early morning and evening hours when deer are most active.
- Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path.
- If you are operating a motorcycle, slow down, brake firmly, and then swerve if necessary to avoid hitting the deer. Try to stay within your lane if possible, to avoid hitting other objects or vehicles.
- One long blast from your vehicle's horn may frighten the deer to run away.
- If you see one deer, watch for more. Deer seldom run alone.
If drivers hit a deer, they should call 911. People can call the non-emergency number for the nearest sheriff's office if a carcass is on the side of the road.