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Number of deer-vehicle accidents rises in Maryland, falls in Virginia

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The number of accidents in which deer were struck by vehicles has increased by 2 percent in Maryland, while such crashes decreased by 7 percent nationwide, according to a 12-month report released Monday by the State Farm insurance company.

The findings were based on insurance information filed by State Farm customers from July 2010 to June 2011.

Officials attributed the increase in Maryland to crowded roads and more residential development, which forces deer from their natural habitat.

"The reality is we have a lot of people, a lot of roads and a lot of deer," said George Timko of the Maryland Deer Project, which tries to balance deer and residents living in the same areas. "Maryland is a small state that's highly developed."

State Farm spokeswoman Maria Jackson also suggested residential development has contributed to the increase in deer-vehicle accidents. But she said the annual report is a good reminder for motorists to drive more cautiously.

"We've been releasing this information for several years, and every time we [do], we release tips on what people can do to avoid a collision," she said.

This includes keeping an eye out for multiple deer in one place, especially from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and not swerving to avoid an animal.

Virginia had roughly 3,300 fewer claims, compared with similar years. But Maryland had roughly 675 more deer-vehicle accidents over the one-year period, for a total of 32,675.

Maryland joined about a half-dozen states that had increases in deer-vehicle collisions, including Idaho with 4 percent, North Carolina with 6 percent and Wyoming with 7 percent.

The District had too few claims to make an assessment, according to State Farm data.

States such as Connecticut, Michigan and West Virginia had double-digit percentage decreases, from 22 to 23 percent.

The District remained at number 46 for the states with the lowest likelihood for a such a collision, based on the risk of 1 in 1,053 registered drivers hitting a deer.

West Virginia kept its first-place position with a risk of 1 out of every 53 registered drivers likely to hit a deer.

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