Ann Arbor, MI (November 7, 2023) – As the temperature drops, deer affairs are heating up.
November is a prime month for deer mating as well as deer hunting. As deer are on the move—“chasing tail” or “running from guns”—they can head out into the middle of the road. While deer collisions represent less than 3% of all car collisions in Ann Arbor, and none have been fatal, the Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) wants to remind residents how they can prevent accidents and protect both people and deer.
To help prevent accidents, HSHV suggests seven safety tips:
- Look out, especially at dawn and dusk. Deer are most likely to be on the “edge” of development—where we’ve built roadways next to woodlands. Pay attention around forest edges and ditches, and scan the sides of road for movement. Be extra vigilant during dawn and dusk, though during this season, deer may be on the move anytime.
- Reduce speed. Slow down, especially in areas where deer are known to be active. Reducing your speed can give you more time to react if a deer appears.
- Heed warning signs. Ann Arbor and other communities often have signage where deer are known to cross.
- See one? Expect MORE. A doe is likely to be followed by a buck during mating season, and followed by a family of deer afterward. If you see one deer, slow down and look out for others waiting to cross.
- Use your high beams. If there’s no oncoming traffic, switch to bright headlights; they can help you spot deer from a greater distance. Look for “eye shine.” Deer have poor vision– hence the phrase “Deer in the headlights”—they’re not stupid; they’re trying to focus on the bright light ahead of them.
- Honk in short bursts. While deer vision isn’t great, their hearing is better, and they can discern where noise is coming from. Though you should still slow down and stop, honking will encourage them to move further from the road, as well as alert other nearby drivers to look out.
- Don’t veer. If an animal jumps in front of you, slow down as much as possible without swerving or losing control. Apply the brakes, keep your hands on the wheel, stay in your lane, and come to a controlled stop. Only steer around the animal if you can safely do so; the biggest danger comes when people veer into oncoming traffic or collide into trees on the side of the road in order to avoid the animal.
If you hit an animal and are injured or your car is damaged, call 911 immediately.
For injured animals, area residents can call the Humane Society of Huron Valley’s (HSHV’s) emergency rescue line: (734) 661-3512. You should not attempt to move an animal. HSHV provides emergency services to sick and injured wildlife and stray animals; wildlife are given medical treatment and transferred to local, licensed rehabilitators when possible. Although animals who are hit by a car are top priority, wait times may vary as a field officer may be servicing another part of the county. This service is provided free to Washtenaw County residents. For removal of dead animals from public areas, call your local police department’s non-emergency line.
“Deer are magnificent creatures and natives of Michigan who have been here far longer than roads have been,” says Tanya Hilgendorf, HSHV’s CEO and President. “And though deer are pretty savvy around roads, even passing on information to their youth, their judgment is impaired when they’re finding mates and fleeing guns. When deer are more active and less cautious, there are ways we can change our own habits to help avoid them.”
About The Humane Society of Huron Valley:
The Humane Society of Huron Valley, located in Ann Arbor, is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and relies solely on the generosity of our supporters to provide critical community programs and services. HSHV is an award-winning organization, recognized for our best practices and highest animal “save-rate” among all similar shelters in Michigan. Charity Navigator, the nation’s top charity evaluator, awarded HSHV a 4-star ranking, the highest possible. The mission of HSHV is to promote the loving, responsible care of all animals in our community. HSHV is not affiliated with any other humane organization and does not receive funding from the United Way. More information can be found on HSHV’s website (hshv.org) and on our annual report (hshv.org/annualreport).