LAKE ORION, Mich. – Deer crashes resulting in serious injury have reached a decade high, and we’re in the middle of the “Deer-Hit” season right now.
A combination of weather changes, mating habits, and human encroachment creates a hazardous storm which is how Lance DeVoe, the naturalist for Rochester Hills, can see the danger before it starts.
The Paint Creek Junction Park in Oakland Township on Orion Road is a prime spot for deer interactions. In Michigan, Oakland County is the No. 1 spot for deer-vehicle collisions, with 1,853 car strikes in 2021, with Kent County not far behind with 1,810.
In 2021 according to Michigan Traffic Crash Facts, there were 52,218 motor vehicle-deer crashes in the state, including about 1,449 injuries and 10 deaths.
November is the month with the most collisions in Michigan. Most deer hits happen between six and nine in the morning and six and nine at night.
“When it’s cool temperatures like this weekend when it’s going to be 26 or 28 degrees at night for the low, that creates a lot more movement, and it goes later into the morning because it takes longer to warm up and so the deer feed more,” said DeVoe.
SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, collects raw data for analysis, showing a three percent increase in crashes from 2020. Crashes from 2012 had a 24% increase and a 90% increase in serious injuries, so they are now at a decade-high going into 2022.
Local 4 photographer Jeff Jewell knows a little about deer crashes, as he has had three collisions.
“You can’t really get out of the way in enough time, so you just, boom,” said Jewell. “It’s a beast when you’re coming at it, and you’re in a sitting position.”
It’s the rutting season, and bucks are chasing does, and does are running blindly right into the road.
“It’s really a time to be alert when you’re driving,” DeVoe said.
“If you see one running across the road, assume that there’s going to be multiple, and that’s when you want to slow down and look and come to a stop, even if you have to, to make sure that there’s not one waiting in the ditch to cross the road behind you,” DeVoe said. “Because once one runs across, they all follow.”
As they forage for food, they have their own highway systems that move across our roadways and highways.