RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As the days get shorter and colder, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is warning the commonwealth’s drivers to be on the lookout for deer.

New data from State Farm shows that animal-vehicle collisions increased 7.2% in the past year. The auto insurer also reported that during the 12-month period from July 2020 to June 2021, one in 75 drivers in the commonwealth were likely to be involved in an animal collision, making Virginia a high-risk state.

The risk may be high but the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources has a list of tips to help people avoid collisions. Here are some things drivers can do to keep themselves and wildlife safe:

  • Drive slow and be attentive
  • Be aware that deer travel in family groups, after spotting one keep an eye out for more
  • Use caution when you see deer crossing signs, deer often cross in the same spots
  • Slow down or stop to avoid hitting deer but do not swerve and risk hitting something else
  • Always wear your seat belt

If you do hit a deer or bear, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources ask that you call local law enforcement or a Conservation Police Officer to alert them about the incident. People can keep roadkill for their own use if they first report it to law enforcement and someone else is able to review the animal and present them with a possession certificate.