Officials are reminding motorists to drive carefully as the state's 1.2 million white-tailed deer population becomes more active during the fall breeding season.
At least 9,820 vehicles have collided with deer in Minnesota in the last three years. Eighteen people died as a result, including 16 motorcyclists.
Deer movement peaks after sundown and before sunrise, making the animals difficult to spot. State officials are urging motorists to drive at safe speeds and stay alert.
The state's Department of Public Safety has issued different guidelines for car drivers and motorcyclists.
Car drivers should never swerve when encountering a deer in the road, said Cheri Marti, director of DPS Office of Traffic Safety.
"Swerving to avoid a deer or any other animal can result in your vehicle going off the road or into oncoming traffic," Marti said. "The best defense is to be buckled and brake."
Motorcyclists should try to swerve around the animal if possible, officials said, as motorcyclists have relatively little protection from a head-on collision. Officials encourage riders to wear helmets and other protective gear to reduce the risk of injury or death.
Deer become more active during the fall mating season. Fawns can also wander onto roadways after their mothers leave them to mate.
"It's a time when deer don't seem to maintain that invisibility and distance that typically keeps them from dangerous interactions with motorists," said Col. Jim Konrad, DNR enforcement director.
Officials caution that deer can be unpredictable, and sometimes stop in the middle of the road or even move directly toward a vehicle.
If a deer dies or is injured due to a collision, officials encourage drivers to report the incident to the DNR or their local law enforcement agency.
Minnesota residents need to obtain a permit from a law enforcement officer to claim a road-killed deer or other animal.