Deer are on the move in fall

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published October 28, 2014


ROCHESTER HILLS — Motorists should be on the lookout for deer during the months of October and November.

“Breeding season for deer is when they are most active,” said Jim Kubicina, chair of the Rochester Hills Deer Management Advisory Committee. “Dusk and dawn are high-traffic times.”

Kubicina said Rochester Hills car/deer accidents decreased in 2013 — with 136 reported, compared to 155 car/deer crashes the previous year.

“We are trending in the right direction,” he said in a Nov. 20 presentation to the Rochester Hills City Council. “We’d like to see zero.”

Aerial deer counts last January revealed high numbers, but that does not signify a jump in the amount of deer in the area, said Rochester Hills naturalist Lance DeVoe. Last winter’s extreme cold caused the deer to herd tightly together, he said. 

“Normally, we see between 20 and 30 deer,” DeVoe said. “This year, there were 75. That says the deer were congregating in a place protected from wind. We saw trails 3 feet deep, showing deer traveling the same way.”

This year’s deer/car crashes have not increased proportionally to the number of deer in the aerial count, he said.

Kubicina said message boards posted on major roads are currently alerting motorists to watch out for deer.

“We relocate message boards every two weeks in October and November,” he said. Kubicina said committee members also give deer-related gardening tips to residents.

October is Deer Awareness Month. According to the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition, the Michigan deer herd is estimated at 1.8 million.

Last year, 12 Michigan motorists were killed and another 1,200 were injured in deer/vehicle crashes.

“Most injuries and deaths occur when motorists veer to avoid the deer,” Lori Conarton, Michigan Deer Crash Coalition chair, said in a statement. “So when a deer crash is unavoidable, it is important to have your hands on the steering wheel, slow down and stay in your own lane.”

A deer-feeding ban remains in place in Rochester Hills, with an ordinance prohibiting the feeding of wild animals other than birds. The ban is intended to reduce the travel patterns of deer from their natural habitat into neighborhoods where feeding stations and bait piles are provided — crossing roads and causing crashes.

Rochester Hills City Council President Gregg Hooper said he is joining this year’s statistics on deer/car crashes.

“A deer decided to jump in front of my truck,” he said. “It came out of nowhere. And $6,400 later, it is an issue for insurance companies and everybody here.”

“We know that there is a car/deer accident about every other day in our community,” Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett said. “We remind folks to be cautious, be careful.”