2016-10-20 / Outdoors

Car-deer accidents up across state, not in Leelanau County

A comparatively warmer winter and a healthy deer herd had car-deer accidents on the rise in Michigan last year.

Alexander Smith of the Capital News Service reported this week that, according to Michigan State Police, the Mitten saw a 3 percent increase in car-deer collisions from 2014 to 2015—from 45,987 crashes to 47,002.

That wasn’t the case in Leelanau County, however, where car-deer accidents actually decreased by 7 percent—from 315 in 2014 to 293 in 2015.

The peninsula was one of 34 counties that saw a decrease in car-deer accidents, compared to 47 counties with an increase (one county, Montmorency, had 198 both years).

Chad Stewart, deer management specialist for the Department of Natural Resources, said the deer population is partially to blame for the state increase.

“We’ve gotten a lot of reports from our field staff that indicate Michigan’s deer herd is doing quite well,” Stewart said. “We had a very mild winter across all of Michigan last year, so there wasn’t much loss over winter.

“The deer came out with really good health and fitness levels.”

Most of the accidents happened in the lower portion of the state.

Oakland County had 123 more deer-related crashes in 2015 for a total of 1,873, the highest in the state.

Kent County had the second-largest total with 1,528 deer-related crashes in 2015, up 190 more from 2014.

“Statistically, Kent County’s always way up there, and it’s because of the combination between the number of deer to the number of people,” said Gail Hawley, a Kent County sheriff’s deputy. “Other counties, they may have more deer but not as many people.”

During the fall, accidents increase in almost all counties. Nearly 21,000 crashes—about 45 percent of the total —were between October and December.

The study showed most accidents took place in the early morning and early evening.

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