Officials warn upcoming deer mating season creates hazard for drivers

It's one of the most dangerous times of year for drivers in Massachusetts and it's all because of deer.

Mating season is upon us and for about the next three weeks, drivers are urged to beware.

"At this time of year the males are much more oblivious to traffic and other threats because they've got other things on their mind," Marion Larson, Mass. Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.

By some estimates, the risk for a deer strike during mating season doubles in Massachusetts and it's a risk that seems higher than ever.

Since 2016, State Farm Insurance moved Mass. from the 44th riskiest state to strike a deer or similar animal to, this past year, the 28th.

Officials say one area of the state is more dangerous than any other.

"Drivers that are inside the 495 area should be even more alert," said Larson.

That's because, they say, the deer population has swollen statewide, but not evenly.

"We have around 95-100,000 deer in the state but similar to the way the people population is in Massachusetts it's more densely populated in the eastern part of the state," said Larson.

With I-495, at most 18 deer a square mile would be normal, but in some areas, the state estimates there could be more than double that.

"Deer populations are large and so they are a threat to the motoring public," said Molly Brodeur-Nesbitt, Al Brodeur's Auto Body.

The average cost to repair a vehicle that's had a collision with a deer or similar animal is more than $4,000.

While humans are rarely killed in deer strikes, it can be a traumatic experience.

"Oftentimes there's no warning," said Brodeur-Nesbitt. "They come at full force. At your vehicle. And it's extremely alarming."

Swerving to avoid the animal, however, is the wrong thing to do as you could wind up hitting something much worse.