Special Report: Deer Danger in Mississippi

There are more than 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions a year in the United States.

Mississippi doesn't keep specific statistics for such collisions, but if you want to know how big a problem it is, all you have to do is ask the right people.

If there is anyone who would know just how big a problem deer and cars colliding is, it would be Joey Rigdon, the owner of J and R Body Shop in Meridian.

On the day Newscenter 11 visited, every car he had in his shop had been hit by a deer. That's right, every car in the shop. And every car had some pretty significant damage.

Rigdon says there are a lot of them this time of year. He estimates it makes up about 30 percent of his business during the winter.

That means a lot of people are losing a lot of money on such collisions, the owners of the cars and their insurance agents.

"We'd love to see someone come up with some wonderful invention that could keep deer away from vehicles," said insurance agent Bruce Clopton. "We're just waiting on that to come about."

So is law enforcement, especially county sheriff's deputies. Most deer-vehicle collisions happen on two-lane county roads, where the deer are most plentiful.

And though this part of Mississippi hasn't seen any fatalities because of deer in the last few years, law enforcement officials say it's likely just a matter of time.

"There's always the potential for injury," said Lt. Frankie Springer of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department. "Somebody could run off the road. They could hit a tree."

Rigdon doesn't want anyone to get hurt, but he says the average collision he doesn't really mind so much. Quite frankly, it keeps him in business. But for people hitting the deer, it cuts into their living.


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