Bambi and crew wreak havoc on local roads, lawns

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published October 29, 2018

FRANKLIN/BLOOMFIELD — As Michiganders, we have to put up with a certain number of annoyances as a trade-off for living in one of the nation’s natural paradises.

Among those annoyances are deer — graceful and impressive, and also great at munching away gardens and causing car accidents in Oakland County’s more northern, wooded neighborhoods.

“We certainly have an abundance of deer in the township. We take multiple car versus deer accidents a year and receive complaints from residents about deer invading their property and eating their foliage,” said Lt. Dan Brown, of the Bloomfield Township Police Department.

He said officers can come out for complaints and maybe make a few suggestions to ward off troublesome creatures, suggestions like installing wrought-iron fences — but of course, that depends on the rules of homeowners associations and subdivisions.

But a ruined garden is nothing compared to a dented fender or worse.

“As far as accidents, I wish I had the magic potion to stop those,” Brown said. “Using high beams on side streets and simply paying attention is the best advice. Many studies show braking hard and keeping a straight path is safer than trying to swerve and avoid the deer, which may cause a more serious injury.”

Each year in Michigan, there are nearly 50,000 reported deer-car crashes, according to the Michigan State Police. Around 80 percent of the accidents occur on two-lane roads between dusk and dawn, and police say the most serious crashes occur when motorists swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or a fixed object, or when their vehicle rolls over.

With almost 50 percent of those deer-car crashes occurring in October, November and December, municipalities are reminding drivers to keep an eye out for deer on the road.

Bloomfield Hills Public Safety Lt. Dustin Lockard said there have been two deer complaints in the past month, seven in the last 90 days, and the season is just gearing up.

In the villages of Franklin and Bingham Farms, where residential yards are even more rural, with dark, wooded lots, Police Chief Dan Roberts said deer are often the topic of complaints.

“Our biggest problems with the deer population has been car versus deer accidents. … In fact, just this week we had an accident with a deer where the car was totaled and had to be towed away. The deer was also totaled,” Roberts said. “We’ve also had several instances where deer have been caught on fences and our officers had to dispatch the animals if they’re suffering. We recently had a deer who got caught in the fence at the Franklin Cemetery and didn’t make it.”

Brown suggested that when it comes to keeping deer away from property, whistles, fences and reflectors are the best bets.

On the road, high beams and honking should work to spook a deer out of your way, but if you’re too late and a collision is imminent, make sure you stay in your lane — hitting the animal is actually the safest option in that moment.

“Brake firmly, but stay in your lane when you notice a deer in your path,” Brown said, adding that seat belts are always a necessity, and if you do hit a deer, don’t touch the animal afterward. Just call the police, and then — sigh — your insurance adjuster.

Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond contributed to this report.