Monday, October 3, 2011

Oh, deer!

The curves and hills along Park Street can hide deer.
Fall's a great time of year to get out and enjoy the changing colors or go apple picking, but you're going to have to keep an eye out for deer. Between now and through November, the chances of a car-deer crash increase substantially.

The auto insurer State Farm reports Michigan dropped to fifth place in the car-deer crash rankings, behind No. 1 West Virginia, then Iowa, South Dakota and Pennsylvania.

Michigan had 55,867 reported car-deer crashes with 1,277 injuries and 11 deaths, according to State Farm.

In the state, Allegan and Ottawa counties don't event make the top. The most crashes are in Oakland County, followed  by Jackson, Calhoun, Lapeer, Montcalm, Genesee, Clinton, Sanilac and Eaton.

But don't be complacent. Just this morning, I passed a vehicle on M-89 east of Fennville that struck a deer. No one in the vehicle was hurt. I see deer all along 62nd Street from the Kalamazoo River to Fennville.

And in the city Saugatuck.

The stretch by the former West Shore Golf Course, down Ferry Street in Douglas to Park Street in Saugatuck is like deer alley.

"At dusk, they're all over there," Saugatuck City Councilman Henry VanSingel said at a Sept. 8 city workshop. Mix in people speeding down the winding road and you get what Councilman Bill Hess called a "worst case scenario."

There were two car-deer crashes the week or so after that workshop, police records show. No one in the vehicles were hurt. For towns the size of Saugatuck and Douglas, those two reported crashes stand out.

City Manager Kirk Harrier said he has received several complaints about the growing deer population and is checking with the state Department of Natural Resources about ways to cope with it.

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