Mid-Michigan sees significant rise in deer-vehicle collisions

Nearly 21% of all 2020 vehicle crashes in Michigan involved deer
Deer vs. car crashes on the rise in mid-Michigan
Published: Nov. 5, 2021 at 11:26 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - If you’ve noticed more roadkill recently, you are not alone. There’s been a rise in the number of deer-involved collisions in two Mid-Michigan counties.

Jeff Kreisler, who manages a body shop in DeWitt, said shops are seeing a high volume of vehicles needing repairs -- and it’s not because of collisions with other cars.

“Probably 75% or more that we see right now is deer-related,” Kreisler said.

The damage to the vehicles came from deer jumping out in front of drivers. According to Michigan Traffic Crash Facts, Michigan saw 51,103 vehicle-deer collisions in 2020. In Mid-Michigan, the counties that saw the highest numbers were Jackson County with 1,471 and Clinton County with 1,131.

“This time of year is the whitetail deer’s breeding season,” said Chad Stewart, a deer biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “What you’re going to see is a lot more activity.”

Stewart said deer become more aggressive around autumn and that makes them act out more impulsively -- that’s when they leap out into the roadways without giving it a second thought.

“They’re a lot more erratic in their movements and a lot more unpredictable,” Stewart said. “Just from a data standpoint, nearly half of the vehicle collisions with deer that occur across the entire year occur between October and December.”

Kreisler said his body shop has received a staggering number of deer damaged vehicles in the first week of November.

“Between Monday and Wednesday of this week, we had 26 vehicles that were towed in from deer hits,” Kreisler said.

He said cars that sit low tend to have the deer roll over the vehicle, causing damage to the windshield and roof of the car.

“Cars nowadays, they’re just built to collapse and crumble,” Kreisler said. “The outer panels are usually either plastic or real thin sheet metal. As you can see, they crumble. The parts are very expensive, especially on the newer models.”

What should people know before hitting the open road?

“Obviously, be aware of your surroundings. Try to avoid distracted driving. Moderate your speed because if you’re obeying the speed limits or even a little bit below, your reaction time is going to be a lot better,” Stewart said. “Whenever you see one deer crossing the road, don’t necessarily speed right up because there’s a really good chance that you’ll have one or two deer coming right behind it that might be lagging.”

Stewart said most deer collisions happen between the hours of 6 to 9 a.m. and 6 to 9 p.m.

Copyright 2021 WILX. All rights reserved.

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