Deer committee aims for safety

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published October 31, 2012

ROCHESTER HILLS — Michigan drivers are among the most likely to crash into a deer.

According to recently released information from Federal Highway Administration officials, Michigan ranks as the fourth highest state for the likelihood of drivers hitting a deer, and the chances of a Michigan motorist striking a deer is calculated at 1 in 72 drivers.

The Rochester Hills Deer Management Advisory Committee aims to lower the number of car/deer crashes in the city, and it has initiated signage in high deer/car crash areas, a deer feeding ban and an educational campaign.

Last year, 139 such crashes were reported in Rochester Hills. That is more than in 2010, when 122 deer crashes were reported — but below the 2007 level, which saw 219 crashes.

“We have 10 areas where we have been doing aerial surveys (of deer),” said Committee Chair Jim Kubicina at an Oct. 22 presentation. “The surveys help us predict a trend in the deer population in Rochester Hills.” 

Last year, an aerial survey failed due to lack of snowfall. “We need at least 4 inches of snow,” Kubicina said. Five historically high deer population areas will be examined in the aerial survey: Riverbend Park, City Hall, Bloomer Park, the Winkler Mill area and Butler Road.

City Council member Nathan Klomp praised the committee for its cohesive action. “It has been one of those difficult committees to be on,” Klomp said. “Back in 2009, we were really torn as a city.”

“It is clear we are making an impact,” Council member Adam Kochenderfer said. “The problem is, it is hard to judge how much of an impact and how it is changing. There are so many variables — disease, road construction, the deer migratory pattern and signs’ effectiveness. We know we are making a dent. How much, that is the real challenge here.”

“Certainly this has been an issue and will continue to be an issue in our community,” said Rochester Hills City Council member Michael Webber. “But between signage and the education component, we’ve been able to educate. I am hoping we have that 4 inches of snow to do that flyover this year. Certainly we still hear complaints. We are never not going to have complaints or deer/car accidents.”

Council member James Rosen said he thinks the city has done all it can with what it has in order to minimize accidents.

“We’ve been able to educate drivers. People drive slower, especially after dark. We need to keep doing what we are doing,” he said.