High deer population is good news for hunters, bad news for motorists

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

A higher population of deer in Antrim and Kalkaska counties may mean a good season for deer hunters heading out into the field on Friday, Nov. 15, but the increase of deer has been bad news for motorists as well as deer, like the buck (shown here) that was killed recently on an area highway.


REGION – Last Wednesday, Nov. 6 was just another day for Christina Balko, owner of the M-88 Morning Grind coffee shop and bakery in Bellaire.

That is, until she headed to work from her Bellaire area home that morning and had two deer jump out into the road directly in front of her 2016 Toyota Sequoia.

The collision wrecked the front end of the vehicle, but fortunately, neither Balko or her 16 year-old son, Spencer, were injured. Both deer ran off.

Of the accident, her first, she said ruefully, "When I do something, I do it really well. Not only did I hit a deer on the way to work, I hit TWO deer at the same time. Ugh!"

Balko's encounter with Antrim County's population of white-tailed deer was just one of many in recent weeks. In fact, from Oct. 14 through Nov. 3 of this year, 57 deer/car accidents occurred in the county, according to statistics from the Antrim County Sheriff's Office, putting 2019 at the top of the list of years with the highest number ever.

And the "rut," the mating period of the year in late fall when white-tailed deer are most active, has only just begun.

More than 50,000 Michigan motorists collided with deer in 2018, with those crashes accounting for more than a third of accidents in October and November, according to Michigan State Police data.

Sadly, car/deer crashes injured more than 1,200 people and killed 17 in 2017.

In Antrim County, Forest Home Township had the highest number of car/deer encounters in 2017, with 62 crashes, a 107 percent increase over 2016, while Springfield Township in Kalkaska County had 16 crashes, a whopping 375 percent increase over 2016. Overall, Kalkaska County had one of the largest increases in accidents throughout the state in 2017.

In fact, all areas of Antrim and Kalkaska counties saw huge increases in accidents over the past three years, an indication not only of a population of deer in recovery from the devastatingly long, cold, and snowy winters of 2014 and 2015 – which is believed to have resulted in the starvation deaths of many fawns and older, weaker deer – but also an indication of the effects that new deer hunting rules setting minimum harvest antler sizes on young bucks. That alone is believed to be resulting in many more young antlered deer surviving the long deer hunting season, which begins in late September and ends on Jan 1.

Read the full story in our regular edition of The Review. To subscribe to the paper for just $34 a year, which includes access to our full online e-edition, please go to the subscription page on this website at: http://www.antrimreview.net/subscribe/


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