Fewer deer crashes impacting Wisconsin repairers

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Auto body shop owners in Wisconsin say fewer vehicles are coming in with deer crash damage, according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The total number of vehicle-killed deer has dropped 20 percent, Washington County sheriff's Lt. Martin Schulteis told the newspaper.

"I've got friends in the industry, and they're all saying they're not seeing the deer collisions like they used to," said Ron Schaefer, owner of Ron's Bump Shop in Slinger, Wis.

Schaefer estimates his deer collision repair business has fallen 30 percent from past years, while that of Heinz & Sons 57 Auto Body in Grafton, Wis. has fallen 50 percent.

Madison, Wis.-based American Family Insurance also experienced a drop in claims for animal-related vehicle crashes in Wisconsin, most of them deer. In October 2007, the company had 1,512 claims for crashes with animals with a total gross loss of $3.9 million. In October 2009, the number of claims dropped 41 percent to 893 for a gross loss of $1.3 million.

"The numbers are indeed down this year," American Family spokeswoman, Janet Masters, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "However, there is really no way to attribute that solely to a smaller deer herd. It could be partly due to that, or it may be people are driving less due to economic issues, or other reasons as well."

American Family’s animal-related crash claims are highest in Wisconsin, followed by Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas and Illinois, according to Sandra Spann, American Family spokeswoman.

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