Deer season is open in Michigan once again, and this year it is estimated that there are more deer and fewer hunters. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources there are about 2 million deer in Michigan currently (2022), and 10 years ago the deer population was estimated to be about 300,000. And, as the number of deer have increased the number of deer hunting licenses in Michigan have decreased, yet the number off deer-vehicle crashes have increased.
Beginning with hunting license data, the number of hunting licenses issued in the State of Michigan has been declining for several years, at least. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, there were 732,163 hunting licenses issued in 2017 and by 2021 that number declined to 641,588. For 2022, 460,436 hunting licenses has been issued as of Oct. 31, 2022.
According to a 2021 MLive article, two reasons for the decline in hunting is that both access and time is dwindling. In other words, people are growing too busy to spend time to hunt and hunting locations are declining for some too.
So, with the decline in deer hunters there has been an increase in Michigan’s deer population and an in deer-vehicle traffic accidents. In 2021, there were 52,218 deer-vehicle traffic accidents, with the greatest number of accidents happening in November, according to Michigan Traffic Crash Facts. In general, there were more crashes in the winter months when the days are shorter and when rutting season (essentially mating season occurs). Since 2011, 2019 was when there was the greatest number of deer-vehicle accidents at 55,531.
Furthermore, in 2021, of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan, Oakland County had the highest number of accidents at 1,853. It should be noted, Oakland County also has a higher population than all the other counties except Wayne County. However, Wayne County reported 511 deer-vehicle accidents in 2021. Wayne County also has more densely populated areas.