Why Deer And Auto Collisions Are Down in Michigan
I personally have never hit a deer, but I've had a close call a few times. Of course, we have all witnessed a few, and it can be heartbreaking. Carinsurance.com says the odds of an animal collision are 1 out of 116, but that doubles during deer season, which is from October to December. West Virginia has the highest odds of hitting one. State Farm guesses there were over 1.9 million animal collision insurance claims in the U.S. in 2019 and 2020. Wow, that is a lot.
What Has Changed?
According to fox47news.com Ecologist, Rolf Peterson drives a lot of roads in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and has seen his fair share of deer that got hit by a car. But lately, that has changed because of gray wolves coming to upper Michigan, Canada, and Minnesota. Peterson also says that when wolves came here in the 1990s and 2000s, the deer-vehicle collisions went way down.
In a pretty short period of time, once wolves colonize a county, deer vehicle collisions go down about 24%,” said Dominic Parker, a natural resources economist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and co-author of their new study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
What Happens When Wolves Are Around
So I guess when you have big predators like wolves around, it has an effect on how the prey act.
Wolves use linear features of a landscape as travel corridors, like roads, pipelines and stream beds. Deer learn this and can adapt by staying away.
When I head off the beaten path in Michigan and go to more wooded and country roads, I always watch my speed and pay close attention. I, like many folks, would feel terrible if I hit a deer and it was my fault. Please drive safe this summer and enjoy everything our state has to offer.