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Don't veer for deer on roads

A deer crosses Second Avenue near Lakeview Park in Two Harbors. (Teri Cadeau/News-Chronicle)

The North Shore is a beautiful drive any time of year. The lake, the cliffs, the trees, sunrise or sunset, flowers in the summer, leaves in the fall.

And then there are the deer. It's said there are two kinds of drivers on the North Shore: those who have hit a deer, and those who will.

Your chances of hitting a deer in Minnesota are about 1 in 80 — the seventh highest in the U.S. Our neighbors' chances in Wisconsin, Iowa and South Dakota are even higher, if that makes us feel any better, so don't try to escape this danger by heading next door.

In the fall, deer migrate from the high ground inland down to the North Shore. They yard up near the lake where winter temps are warmer, and winter food is more available. The North Shore's Jonvick (or Jonvik) deer yard, named for Jonvick Creek north of Lutsen, is the largest deer yard in the state. Deer are killed by vehicles almost every day on that stretch of road. Often the vehicles are killed, too. And sometimes, so are people.

It's recommended that people don't feed deer on the lake side of the highway, which encourages them to cross the road. To avoid collisions with deer, good driving habits are imperative. Wear your seat belt. Don't speed. Don't be distracted from the road. Use high beams when you can. Watch both roadsides — where there is one deer, there are often more behind. And don't drink and drive.

If a collision is unavoidable, brake firmly and hold the wheel tight. Don't swerve, which could cause you to lose control or veer into other traffic. Let up on the brakes at the last moment to raise the hood and reduce the risk of the deer coming through your windshield. Try to move your vehicle out of traffic. And call 911 for assistance if needed.

We live in a beautiful place, and most of us love to see the deer — but not on the highway. Let's all make it home safely.

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