Deer campaign continues

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published October 4, 2016

ROCHESTER HILLS — Ongoing efforts to help lower the number of car/deer crashes in the city are continuing into the fall, when deer are on the move.

“We’ve had a lot of car/deer accidents for a long time,” Lance DeVoe, Rochester Hills naturalist, said during a Sept. 26 presentation before the Rochester Hills City Council.

Based on aerial counts taken last February, DeVoe estimates the city’s deer population to be between 1,200 and 1,800.

A campaign to increase drivers’ awareness of deer on the roads has helped lower the number of crashes, which totaled 144 last year.

“The highest (annual) number (of crashes) since we started keeping (track) was 219, and we are significantly below that,” DeVoe said.

According to the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition, 47,002 car/deer crashes were reported in Michigan in 2015.

Eleven people were killed in those crashes, which occurred most often in heavily populated southern counties. Oakland County had the highest number of car/deer crashes — 1,873 in 2015.

The Rochester Hills Deer Management Advisory Committee wants to extend the use of message boards that warn motorists of deer.

“We want to increase the message boards and the time frame that they are up,” Deborah Barno, DMAC chair, said. “To Oct. 1 to Dec. 1, if possible.”

Currently, the boards are in use from Oct. 15 to Nov. 15.

DeVoe said 45 percent of car/deer crashes in the city occur in October and November.

Barno also encouraged the use of prismatic reflective tape on deer warning signs, and said spring educational campaigns could increase awareness of deer fawning.

“We get calls in the spring that there are stray fawns,” she said. “People don’t know what to do. They are moving them. You just leave them alone. The mother will come back for them.”  

She said residents concerned about deer eating their shrubbery should contact the advisory committee. A member of the committee will meet with residents and give them a packet of information about how to manage deer in gardens.

Roadkill deer should be reported to the city.

“We typically try and get them the same day as when we get the report” if the deer is on a city road, DeVoe said. “If it is a county road, (the county) may wait until they get a couple or three in the area and pick them all up at the same time.”

Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett said car/deer crashes are an ongoing issue.

“We get a lot of heated commentary,” he said. “It is a blessing and a curse. We have a beautiful community, and we like to share that with the deer.”

“I think we can easily learn to live peacefully with the deer,” City Councilwoman Susan Boyer said. “We have so many parks and green spaces that are natural habitats for them.

“With the days getting shorter, we have to be really aware that at dusk and dawn, that’s when the deer are out,” Boyer said. “As far as complaints about the landscaping, it is so easy to choose daffodils over tulips, bleeding hearts over hosta. If you want to keep the plants, you can pick the ones that the deer avoid.”

To report roadkill or request information about gardening to deter deer, call the city at (248) 656-4600.