They come out of nowhere.
In northern Michigan, a simple drive can be disrupted in the blink of an eye by an encounter with one of the many deer with whom northerners share their home. A glimpse of few deer grazing by the side of the road may be a gentle pleasure, but when the deer decide to sprint across the road, the result can be hazardous for all concerned.
This time of year is when deer are most on the move, according to Deputy Ryan Frost of the Presque Isle County Sheriff’s Office. The department responds to about 10 car/deer calls a week during the late winter months, when deer are looking for food sources and are attracted to roads by the salt left behind by snowplows.
Most of the calls handled by the department occur in the early morning and early evening hours, when deer tend to be mobile. Frost suggested drivers be especially alert during those times and that they watch their speed to give themselves enough time to brake if an animal is on or near the road.
Drivers who hit a deer should pull onto the side of the road and, if a phone is available, call their local law enforcement agency to file a police report, Frost said. Those with smartphones can look up the central dispatch number for their county. It is also alright to simply call 911. An officer will be dispatched to file a report and can assist the driver in getting tow service if the vehicle is not drivable.
A deer struck by a vehicle rarely bounds away unharmed. If the animal has been killed and is in the roadway, the driver can drag it out of the way of traffic, but only if it’s safe to do so, Frost said. If the deer survives but has been injured enough that it won’t be able to recuperate, the officer will dispatch it humanely as quickly as possible.
Vehicle damage from an encounter with a deer can be substantial. Norm Arlt, owner of Norm’s Body Shop in Rogers City, has received many calls a day in recent weeks, asking for repairs on vehicles that have been damaged by hitting a deer.