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Posted on Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 2:06 p.m.

Vehicle-deer crashes on the rise in Washtenaw County, southeast Michigan

By Heather Lockwood

On a list of 10 southeast Michigan communities, Scio Township ranked No. 4 for vehicle-deer crashes in 2009, according to a Southeast Michigan Council of Governments news release. And the number of vehicle-deer crashes has gone up in the county, southeast Michigan and across the state since 2008.

Scio Township had 119 vehicle-deer crashes last year, which put it at No. 1 in Washtenaw County. Rochester Hills was No. 1 in the state with 163.

York Township was No. 2 in the county with 86, followed by Webster Township with 81, and Pittsfield Township with 72, according to data from the Michigan Department of State Police Criminal Justice Information Center.

Mary Dettloff, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said deer are overpopulated in the southern-most -third of the state, or anything south of Clare, due to less hunting of them.

"The population in the southern half of the lower peninsula is well over the population goal the department has for them," Dettloff said. "The population is approaching 1 million (in that portion of the state)."

She said a few factors contribute to the problem, including lack of public hunting land, and an abundance of ideal deer habitat that she says "human beings unintentionally create" when building large subdivisions surrounded by woods, or by clearing land for agricultural uses.

"Because of the heavy emphasis on agriculture in the southern parts of the state, there tends to be more land for deer to take up habitat," she said.

The number of vehicle-deer crashes in Washtenaw County rose from 1,167 in 2008, or 11.3 percent of all crashes, to 1,202 in 2009, or 12.3 percent of all crashes, while the total number of overall crashes in the county decreased.

There were 6,560 vehicle-deer crashes in Southeast Michigan in 2009, compared to 6,278 the year before. The number for the entire state also increased from 61,010 in 2008 to 61,486 in 2009. But the number of vehicle-deer crashes that resulted in human fatalities decreased from 12 to 10 — all of which involved motorcycles, and none of which occurred in Southeast Michigan.

According to the release, most vehicle-deer crashes occur between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Dettloff said the state encourages hunters to hunt in southern Michigan, rather than travel north, because "hunting is the best population management tool for deer."

To ease the problem of scarce public hunting land, Dettloff said the state has created a Hunter Access Program, through which it leases private land — including farm land — throughout southern Michigan for public hunting.

Find more Washtenaw County crash data by city here.

Find more data and safety tips for motorists, motorcyclists here.

Heather Lockwood is a reporter for Reach her at or follow her on Twitter.


Tex Treeder

Sun, Sep 26, 2010 : 2:28 p.m.

Let's NOT mow the median on Huron Parkway. Deer are not the reason to decide to mow/not to mow. Preservation of native flora and fauna, aesthetics, and the educational benefits of having native prairie should also be considered. Too much development in inappropriate areas is the root cause of more deer/car accidents. Do we really need more gated communities in what used to be prime farmland?

David Sponseller

Sat, Sep 25, 2010 : 1:44 p.m.

The portion of the Huron Parkway having the median is very dangerous. Whoever decided that the median should not be mowed has exposed every driver to the constant danger of colliding with a deer. I have seen as many as five deer crossing at one time. On one occasion I missed a deer by just a few feet when it darted out from the tall weeds south of Hubbard. Please, MOW THE MEDIAN!!!


Sat, Sep 25, 2010 : 11:54 a.m.

@bunnyabbot Lets don't get carried away!,1607,7-153-10370_12145_43573-153232--,00.html In 2004, a hair sample was collected from a vehicle bumper and tested using DNA analysis. That sample was positively identified as cougar. A recent study based on DNA analysis of scat samples was conducted by Central Michigan University and the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy. That study showed that samples from eight locations tested as positive as cougars. The additional types of physical evidence that would normally suggest cougars, such as carcasses and verified photos and tracks have not been documented in Michigan. 2. Are cougar sightings by themselves evidence that cougars are here? No. Most state wildlife agencies, including the Michigan DNR, rely on physical evidence such as carcasses, DNA evidence, tracks, photos, and other sign verified by experts to document the presence of cougars.


Sat, Sep 25, 2010 : 11:30 a.m.

@my opinion: First they'd have to assign a special task force to look into it.


Sat, Sep 25, 2010 : 10:07 a.m.

@jeffery. There are cougars in SE Michigan (cougar, puma and mountain lion are all the same cat, the names are interchangable). Just not as many as farther north and there are news reports about sitings quite often (at least a few times a year) in wayne and monroe counties. I don't think we need to work on reintroducing coyotes, I have seen two dead ones and a live one within the last year along the same 3 mile route. I think last year or the year before there was even a black bear spotted near manchester. Wolves on the other hand, if introduced would kill off the coyotes first before making much of a dent in the deer population.


Sat, Sep 25, 2010 : 9:04 a.m.

Oh deer! ANOTHER reason for people to slow down on Scio Church Rd. Rather than driving the typical 70 mph and passing more hurriedly to get to the next stop sign...consider the possibility that Bambie may become a hood ornament. Funny (not so)... not too long ago I ran to the rescue of a driver who just totaled his van after hitting his 8th kidding!


Sat, Sep 25, 2010 : 8:18 a.m.

@Jeffery "if the DNR were to reintroduce the deers natural predators like wolfs, cougars, and coyotes are "deer" problems would be over. Anyone remember this thing called a food chain? " Reintroducing wolves and cougars into southern Michigan where the large numbers of deer are would be a major mistake! As for Coyotes no need to "reintroduce" them their numbers are steadily increasing and they are starting to take more and more fawns in certain areas. BUT our deer "problems" would not be over and we would have a new set of problems!


Sat, Sep 25, 2010 : 8:07 a.m.

if the DNR were to reintroduce the deers natural predators like wolfs, cougars, and coyotes are "deer" problems would be over. Anyone remember this thing called a food chain?


Sat, Sep 25, 2010 : 8:02 a.m.

Tru2Blu76 1)"Deer (venison) has never been "tough and gamey" meat" I agree pretty much I have never had a bad piece of deer when I cooked it. But I have had a bad piece of venison (moose)when I cooked it. The problem is it was about 10 years old. 2) I agree there has not been a major jump in car deer accidents in recent years. It started getting bad in the 80's when deer numbers started skyrocketing. 3) &4) very astute observations I agree with 100%


Sat, Sep 25, 2010 : 7:50 a.m.

Tru2Blu76 We've a family farm near Cadillac that is over a hundred years old. I'm a fourth generation hunter on the land, and have been hunting since the Seventies. We've always butchered our deer the same way. All I can say is that the bucks we eat now are vastly different from the ones we ate back in the Seventies and Eighties. Same goes for does. You can smell the difference before you cook it. Diet is everything, and if the deer are eating hay and acorns, the meat is gamey. The deer are so abundant that four or five of the neighbors have an agreement amoungst ourselves that we won't shoot any four pointer or less. This has been going on for the past six or seven years, and the result is that we are now shooting eight to twelve point bucks now. (Actually, last year, ony guy shot an 11 1/2 point buck.) This was unheard of fifteen or twenty years ago. The only difference we can point to is the huge increase in corn cultivation. The deer start eating the corn stalks well before the ears develop, and keep eating through the fall. It would be interesting to look at insurance stats for Michigan and see if premiums have crept up because of the deer/car collisions. My only experience with deer collisions was when driving on Jennings road one early evening. I saw the deer at the last moment trying to cross in front of my truck. I hit the accellerator instead of the brakes, the result being that the deer wound up stuffed in the rear wheel well instead of in my windshield. Happy hunting!


Sat, Sep 25, 2010 : 12:22 a.m.

I'll never forget golfing at Hudson Mills, hole number 2, and a playing partner smacking one into the thickets. We heard the ball hit something pretty solid, ansecond or two later out came a fine speicmen of a deer. We all fell to our knees in laughter. Point is, we have an abundance of deer in the area, and some nice ones at that, lets get some tourism out of it, having people come in to the state and hunting them like other states.

Tom Joad

Sat, Sep 25, 2010 : 12:11 a.m.

One of the principal reasons Michigan has the highest auto insurance rates in the country


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 11:59 p.m.

I frequently take m14 from a2 to ford road to drive into canton to visit friends. There is always a lot of road kill especially the stretch between prospect and napier. The other day there were 3 deer in various states of decay, well one was fresh and I saw a small coyote lying by that one probably killed while feeding off of the deer. On the return trip the coyote carcass was gone. I have traveled this route very often and have encounter many deer crossing, I am always on the look out, but even on the look out a deer in the headlights is always startling as there is virtually no reaction time. I have been in a car that hit a fawn, we only hit it's head but the damage it did and the force of hitting it was quite jolting. Luckily it was decapitated and did not suffer. M14 near dominos is a popular deer crossing, I have seen many deer lying on the shoulder of the road. This spring I also saw an adult coyote that was hit in that area.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 10:07 p.m.

The heavy population of deer in Michigan is a problem that needs attention and a reasonable means to reduce numbers. Baiting is a seasonal problem, but there are also those who feed year-round just for the opportunity to watch deer from the comfort of their homes. This feeding ritual will cause deer to move out of their comfort zones and into populated, heavy traffic areas. Although human injury and death do occur in car/deer encounters, this outcome is not likely within a city jurisdiction where vehicles are traveling at lower than highway speeds. Except for the fact that there are too many deer in heavily populated areas of Michigan, Im not sure why this topic needs attention. Any Michigan driver who travels blindly after dark and just as daylight breaks without taking extra precautions to watch for deer is quite likely to have a deer hit due to the sudden presence of deer on the roadway. Car/deer accidents are not an ideal way to control the deer population since insurance rates tend to increase. Car/deer hits will also not substantially decrease the deer numbers. If drivers would learn to be more aware of the likelihood of crossing paths with deer, there would be far less car/deer encounters. Ive lived in Michigan for the past 22 years, with the majority of time in Michigans U.P. and with more close car/deer encounters than I can count. Although Ive never hit a deer, I have had a deer hit my car on the highway. Deer are unpredictable and use the instinct of flight to escape the unknown. Learning to drive in a heavily-populated deer area is no different than learning to drive defensively, always being on the look-out for critters and the less-than-attentive drivers you encounter every day. If all drivers stopped being surprised, angered, and resentful towards all the surprises on the roadways, there would be far less collisions of all types.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 8:42 p.m.

@tdw YES you are wrong! What state do you live in?


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 7:29 p.m.

BTW it looks like it was 2001 when everyone could use a cross bow about the same time you could use a gun in a tree stand


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 7:16 p.m.

Does any one wonder why there are all of a sudden so many more deer? What happened in last two or three years to increase the deer population despite increasing the hunting season for just about every kind of weapon? The definitive answer, my friends, is the ban on baiting in Michigan. The DNR, in their infinite wisdom, banned all baiting in our state in order to curb the rise of chronic wasting disease. Problem is, there has only been one case of this type found in our state, and that was on a deer farm. Hunters have relied, rightly or wrongly, on baiting as a primary means of attracting deer since the mid Seventies. The practice grew out of proportion (semi- loads of beets were known to have been dumped on fields), and the DNR saw this as a potential problem for spreading CWD. Anyway, since the ban, hunters have killed far fewer deer. Hence, we have cars (and coyotes) killing more deer than ever. dading: Time was, the deer in the northern half of the lower peninsula were smaller, tasted real gamey, and were real tough. That has changed somewhat with farmers planting an abundance of corn (for ethanol). Now, the deer are much larger, much tastier, and more abundant.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 7:05 p.m.

The major cause of this is over development. The fields the deer use to run and feed in are now subdivisions. So the deer have to cross streets to get to a feeding area.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 7:02 p.m.

To many humans out there driving, need to reduce that.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 6:53 p.m.

@KMJClark no I am not incorrect.That link shows the expanded rules.I know for a FACT that crossbows have been legal for several years

Ann English

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 6:35 p.m.

I don't ever remember reading about any wolves hit by motorists on our 3 freeways, but I do remember a story about a coyote hit by a motorist on US-23. Now that I think about it, my next-door neighbors have, this year, said that they have heard coyotes yipping in our area. We do have plenty of deer around here for them to eat.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 6:08 p.m.

BTW In talking to some of my hunting buddies there appear to be more does without fawns this fall. The logical conclusion is that the coyotes are taking more fawns


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 6:06 p.m.

I guess I am old school. I started hunting with a recurve in 1968. I switched to a compound about 1975. I will not be switching to a crossbow. My 10 year old grandson will be hunting this weekend with his compound. I remember back in the 60's and early 70's when it would catch your attention if you saw a deer while driving down the road. With the right conditions a deer herd can double its size in a year without hunting to keep the numbers down. Of course up north the food is not abundant and the winters can take their toll.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 5:48 p.m.

@tdw Sorry you are wrong. Cross bow have only been legal in the past if you had a disability that could be verified by a doctor. This is the 1st year anyone can use them.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 5:08 p.m.

Just remember when gun season starts the deer will be moving a lot more. People need to pry their cell phones off their ears this time of year @Ben there haven't been wolves in washtenaw co or lower Michigan for the last 200 years ( give or take)

John Mann

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 4:51 p.m.

I would guess part of the reason more deer are getting killed is that their habitat is disappearing. Areas which were secluded woods are being built up, so the deer are forced into more open areas where they can be hit by cars. Ann Arbor itself is surrounded by interstates, which the deer can't cross, more or less, due to fences, fear of cars, barriers, and so forth. I doubt the deer have the intelligence to figure out that by crossing one of the roads like Geddes or Plymouth they can escape to a wider habitat. Building underpasses every mile or so under the interstates would allow humans, and deer (in the middle of the night most likely), to move from inside the ring of interstates to outside. This would give the deer the access to habitat they need, and with their declining numbers within the city, reduce traffic deaths of both humans and deer.

Kathy Griswold

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 4:45 p.m.

In Ann Arbor we report and talk about vehicle-deer accidents once a year -- then forget about it until the next vehicle-deer data are released. Here are my notes from last year's discussion. At a city council meeting my councilperson, Stephen Rapundalo, asked city administrator Roger Fraser about the deer-vehicle accidents being reported by his constituents. What followed was not an intelligent discussion, nor any indication that staff would take any action. Roger stated that it was not a problem and no one questioned him. A number of questions came to my mind that could be useful in determining if Ann Arbor had a problem, and if so, the information that would be useful in developing an informed, data-driven action plan. Where are the vehicle-deer accidents occurring? Are they random throughout the City or is there a pattern? Thirty accidents in Ann Arbor may not be an issue, but if a significant percentage of those are in the second ward within 2 miles of the UM property, then this would rise to the level of a problem worthy of the Citys attention. What is the trend based on accident data for the last five years? Does UM have a program or have they had a program to control the deer population on their property? Would UM be interested in partnering with the City to address the issue? I live near North campus and have noticed that the UM property is mowed much further back from the roadside than required by the city ordinance. Is that done to provide greater visibility to deer along the roadside? I called UM last summer about overgrown vegetation in the right-of-way. They immediately trimmed their property and informed me that one of my locations had been transferred to the City, thus I asked the City to update their records and maintain their natural area. Im still waiting for the vegetation over the sidewalk to be trimmed.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 4:30 p.m.

All someone needs to do is to figure out how to cheaply make porch furniture from deer carcasses.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 4:17 p.m.

Just to follow-up on my earlier comments... here are links to (1) a graph of car-deer incidents 2004-2008 by month & time of day [] (2) the same data in a Google Earth mashup [] and (3) a screenshot from the GE mashup showing the locations of 2004-2008 car-deer incidents [] Conclusions: Car-deer incidents happen in most areas where there are more cars in less human populated areas... and more at dawn and dusk... and more in autumn. Most can probably be explained by when and where most traffic happens. As we reduce contiguous wildlife habitat areas, more car-deer collisions can be expected to increase.

Kathy Griswold

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 4:11 p.m.

A flexible reporting system for accident data is available at

Ben Connor Barrie

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 3:55 p.m.

Interesting that less hunting is cited as the reason for deer overabundance, rather than expatriation of top predators--wolves.

Kathy Griswold

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 3:51 p.m.

@MyOpinion You are probably being facetious, but Ann Arbor has an ordinance that would decrease your chance of hitting a deer. However, our mayor and city council refuse to enforce it. The ordinance (Chapter 40, Section 3.14-19) is complaint-based and prohibits tall weeds and brush along the sides of the street. In most cases it is not a matter of limited funds in fact this could be a moneymaker for the city -- as property owners are responsible for compliance and can be fined and billed if the city has to do the trimming. Even at slow speeds, a driver does not have time to stop when a deer jumps out from the vegetation growing along the edge of the street. I live near Green and Glacier Way and have deer in my yard almost every evening. And on Glacier Way the vegetation is over the roadway, further restricting the distance one can see ahead on this winding street. Please take a few minutes to contact the mayor and your councilpersons (at and ask them to enforce this ordinance. Deer accidents are just one more reason to trim overgrown weeds and brush along the sides of our streets. Another oddity is the deer crossing sign on Huron Parkway south of Plymouth Road. If this is a known deer crossing, why did the city plant a four-foot prairie in the median at this location?


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 3:49 p.m.

Also if you see the deer on the roadside, BEEP YOUR HORN, it actually works to alert them, headlights don't. Beep your horn for all animals on the side, esp. squirrels! I believe in my deer whistles too....when coming down the dark M14 alley or such places, I'll periodically beep just in case.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 3:28 p.m.

@KJMClark you're a little late.Cross bows have been legal for quite a few years now


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 3:17 p.m.

braggslaw wrote: "Time to get the bow and cross-bow out to reduce the deer population in the area." Note! The DNR just made it legal for anyone to hunt with a crossbow:,1607,7-153-10371_10402-242225--,00.html In the past, only disabled people and young hunters could use crossbows, and only during archery seasons. That all changed last month. And the regular archery season starts next week. If it hadn't been so dark last Saturday night, I would have done my part to reduce the crash rate...


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 3:09 p.m.

Why doesn't the Ann Arbor city council create a law to prevent these car/deer crashes?

dading dont delete me bro

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 2:31 p.m.

and when i say "better fed" i mean off farmer's crops. there are many more soybean, corn, and other crops in the bottom third of the state.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 2:29 p.m.

Slow down and be extra aware at dawn and dusk. If you see one deer cross ahead of you, slow down there are likely more nearby.

dading dont delete me bro

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 2:27 p.m.

i know where i'll be NEXT friday... in da woods. "...deer are overpopulated in the southern-most -third of the state, or anything south of Clare, due to less hunting of them." i disagree to the "less hunting of them". unless you count the terrible weather the past few years. opening days of bow season has been terribly warm for hunting. opening days of firearm have been rainy and just plain nasty. i can count the days on one hand i've been out the past 2 or 3 years combined. that's the only way i see "less hunting of them" because most hunters i know stay downstate anyway. the deer are bigger and better fed. very few go upnorth these days. happy hunting!


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 2:20 p.m.

I see deer cross my path 2-3 times a week on Dexter Road between Wagner and Zeeb, especially right at dawn.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 2:05 p.m.

Time to get the bow and cross-bow out to reduce the deer population in the area.

Rork Kuick

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 1:50 p.m.

An important lesson for new folks around here is that Oct and Nov are the peak months for the deer crashes. If I recall correctly, those two months account for nearly half of the crashes. Some folks blame hunting, but my personal guess is that they just travel more in those months. Rut is approximately end of October around here. Sorry for not supplying references. Another common advice: do not tailgate - the person in front of you may need to slam on the brakes at any moment.