• Kevin Elliott

Deer crashes down, awareness up

The number of deer and vehicle crashes in Rochester Hills appear to be trending down, but awareness of accidents is on the rise as motorists head into peak time of year for dangerous collisions, Deborah Barno, chair of the city's deer management advisory committee said at the Monday, September 24, city council meeting.

Barno, who was presenting the committee's annual report, said there were 161 reported deer-vehicle crashes in 2017, down slightly from 176 the previous year. Overall, the number of crashes has been lower than those in 2007 when the city saw 219 crashes. However, the highest number of deer crashes come in October (31 crashes), November (26 crashes) and December (24 crashes).

About 80 percent of crashes occur on two-lane roads between dusk and dawn. The most serious crashes occur when motorists swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or object.

Despite a slightly lower number of crashes, deer-related complaints remained steady in the city. Those complaints included instances of people feeding deer, nuisance animals and roadkills on local and major roads.

In order to raise awareness about deer-vehicle collisions and other wild-deer related issues, Barno said the committee recently developed a brochure entitled, "Coexisting with White-tailed Deer," and recently hosted a bi-annual spring "Gardening with Deer" seminar, which drew over 100 participants.

This fall, the committee kicked off an educational campaign though a city-issued press release and though information on utility bills. Additionally, the committee has worked with the city to put up temporary electronic signs with the message "High Deer Crash Area."

Areas with the most frequent crashes include Avon, Adams, Walton and Tienken, in spots surrounded by natural areas and deer corridors.

City Council President Mark Tisdel said there hasn't been enough push for controlled hunts or other deer management programs to implement one in Rochester Hills. Still, he said residents pay to reduce the deer population through higher insurance rates related to crashes.

"We are culling deer, but we are doing it with vehicles," he said.

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