October 02, 2013 - Whitetails are getting a "brake" from area drivers.
That's the word issued last week by the Southeast Michigan Council of Government Michigan Deer Crash Coalition indicated that Oakland County had 1,683 car deer crashes 237 fewer than last year. Statewide car deer crashes have also declined.
Similarly, in Atlas, Brandon and Groveland townships whitetail contact with vehicles has also been on the decline over the past three years.
Tom Bruff, SEMCOG transportation data manager, said several factors have led to the decline in deer crashes.
"Although only an estimation from the DNR (Michigan Department of Natural Resources), the total deer population has leveled off," said Bruff. "The state deer herd is about 1.73 million according to the recent count; however, southern lower Michigan is 840,000 animals —about half of the total. Similarly, the southern tier of counties also has the highest number of drivers. As a result the crashes are greater."member they are wild animals and unpredictable."
Bruff said that fall and spring are key times to watch for deer along the roadways.
"When the mating season starts in the fall and the weather cools, deer are all on the move—especially dusk to dawn," he said. "When forested land and high brush come up near the roadway drivers should be extra cautious."
Sgt. Pete Burkett, Oakland County Sheriff's Office, Brandon Township substation, said the decline in car deer crashes begins with education.
"Motorists in the township are pretty much aware of when to slow down and what areas of the township have more animals," he said. "The public is aware we live in a high density of deer population. If they see deer along the road it's time to slow down.
Burkett added that given the crash statistics in 2010 the number of accidents along M-15 were related to major road construction.
"The road work causes a problem with congestion and slowdowns," he said. "While we have fewer deputies on the road, our visibility is out there where motorists can see us enforce the traffic laws."
Burkett reminds motorists if a deer is hit to call 9-1-1.
"You'll need an insurance report," he said.
"Also, if the deer is laying there a motorist may want to keep it and have it processed. In that case you'll need a permit to possess the deer."
2010 2011 2012
Deer Crashes Deer Crashes Deer Crashes
Atlas Twp. 84 145 72 153 68 142
Brandon Twp. 60 214 67 217 54 197
Groveland Twp. 60 178 46 162 43 155
"Another factor in the southern counties is shift in population to more rural areas," he added. "Deer patterns move due to changes in their environment. Re-