The North Carolina Transportation Department reports that the number of animals hit by drivers in North Carolina increased in 2019 to the highest levels recorded in more than five years. The department released a report Monday detailing three years’ worth of animal-related crashes. Researchers found that such collisions killed five people and injured more than 2,800 from 2017 to 2019. According to the report, the number of crashes had been declining from a high of more than 20,330 in 2013, but soared to 20,331 in 2019. Transportation officials attribute the rise to the state’s population growth, adding to the amount of development and number of drivers on the road.