And what the city is doing to prevent these deer on car collisions with its proactive Rochester Hills Deer Management Advisory Committee
Last week, I wrote about the counties in Michigan with the most deer car accidents. Topping the list for 2014 was Oakland County, according to the Michigan State Police. And from talking with a Michigan State Police officer, I found that Rochester Hills is actually the city in Michigan with the most reported deer-car accidents.
Experts surmise that because hunting is not allowed in Rochester and because Rochester and Rochester Hills still has large rural areas, the deer are becoming overpopulated. And those deer are wandering onto roads and in front of cars.
But Rochester Hills is doing something about the influx of deer car accidents they’ve had – which peaked in 2008.
The City created a Rochester Hills Deer Management Advisory Committee in 2009 to review vehicle/deer crash statistics and the annual deer count surveys and then evaluate effectiveness of the controlled culling operation. The Committee is in full force today. It also gathers and reviews metrics and data from all available sources and statistics for possible guidelines and inclusion in the Deer Management Policy; investigates and recommends any potential funding sources for implementation of the Policy; and makes recommendations to assist City Council.
We spoke with Lance DeVoe, the City Naturalist for Rochester Hills, for more insight on this great preventative program:
Q. How common are deer car-accidents in Rochester Hills?
A. Rochester Hills has led the state in deer car accidents for years, and in 2008, reached a high of 219 in one year. But these numbers are just the tip of the iceberg, as they’re only the reported accidents where people call the police to make an insurance claim for car damage.
Q. Why do you think there are so many deer-car accidents in the area?
A. We have a no hunting ordinance. The only real predation that takes place is disease and coyotes in the spring, but the deer are mainly killed by cars. So we adopted several different strategies to try to lower the accidents:
- Each year, the committee partners with Oakland County to fly over the city and count deer in 10 different areas, in order to gauge the population and any trends. We also track where all the car deer car-accidents occur. The committee then uses that information in the fall, when they put up movable message boards throughout the city that warn motorists they’re in a high crash area.
- We are also available to to go to people’s houses to talk about deer safety, how to garden with deer, etc.
- Another thing the committee did to lessen these crashes is ban feeding of deer in the city to try and stop the movement pattern of deer going to these feeding stations and crossing roads to get there. We wanted to retain the deer in their natural habitat.
Q. How effective has the committee been at preventing deer car accidents?
A. Initially, we saw a big decline in the car deer-accidents and now it’s starting to creep back up. It’s difficult to keep the issue in the forefront and keep reminding people to be diligent when you’re driving. But it’s still been down. In 2014, there were 170 collisions with deer.
What are the worst areas in Rochester Hills for deer-car accidents?
According to the Rochester Hills Deer Management Advisory Committee, the worst areas in the city for deer car accidents are:
- Avon Road between Livernois and Adams.
- Walton Boulevard between Squirrel and Adams.
- John R between Avon and South Boulevard.
DeVoe noted that the most dangerous areas change every year based on construction in the area. For instance, Tienken road was the highest for three years in a row, but since its been under construction, the number of deer-car accidents have gone down. He also noted North Rochester Road going into Oakland Township can be treacherous.
The one takeaway you must know
DeVoe said the biggest tip he would like to share is, “Don’t veer for deer:”
“That’s largely driven because the chances for a person being injured are less than they are going off the road or swerving into oncoming traffic. This is my advice to people other than driving slower (there are virtually no deer car accidents in subdivisions because the speed limit is 25). Most of these accidents are on main roads with higher speed limits where it’s harder to slow down.
Another thing to remember is that deer very seldom are by themselves. So if you see one, be ready for others that may follow.”