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Thinking outside the marketplace: a biologically based approach to reducing deer-vehicle collisions


Deer-vehicle collisions are a major concern throughout much of the World, accounting for human injury and death, damage to vehicles, and immeasurable waste of deer as a wildlife resource. Throughout the planning of our research project, we reviewed the primary literature to identify strategies with the most potential to reduce deer-vehicle collisions. Our review is available online as an annotated bibliography at: research/wildlife/devices/GADOTLiteratureReview.pdf. Our findings indicated that most states in the U.S. have attempted to minimize deer-vehicle collisions through a variety of techniques. However, most studies have not empirically examined the efficacy of such techniques and many deer-deterrent devices were not designed with an understanding of the sensory capabilities of deer. Many previous studies also were isolated in scope or were inadequately replicated to afford statistical validity. Hence, the questions regarding efficacy of many deer deterrent devices remain largely unanswered and there still exists a need for research on mitigation strategies based on the sensory abilities of deer. Until these research results become available, management efforts to minimize deer-vehicle collisions should focus on (1) implementing proper deer-herd management programs; (2) controlling roadside vegetation to minimize its attraction to deer and maximize visibility for motorists; (3) increasing motorist awareness of the danger associated with deer-vehicle collisions; (4) thoroughly monitoring deer-vehicle collision rates; and (5) encouraging communication and cooperation among governments, wildlife researchers, highway managers, motorists, and others involved in the issue of deer-vehicle collisions. We are conducting a research project designed to provide a more thorough understanding of the physiological processes driving white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) roadway behavior. Our ultimate goals are to use this knowledge to develop improved strategies designed to reduce deer-vehicle collisions.

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