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Effects of gender and season on spatial and temporal patterns of deer-vehicle collisions


White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are a serious accident hazard, especially in suburban communities with high deer densities. Such areas are becoming more common as deer populations continue to grow throughout the northeastern United States. This study analyzed deer-vehicle collision data collected from police reports in Connecticut for 2000, 2001 and 2002. The purpose of this project was to integrate the use of standard crime mapping tools, multi-temporal remotely sensed vegetation imagery, human infrastructure, and the behavioral aspect of white-tailed deer to create a spatially explicit model of gender-specific deer-vehicle accident probabilities. We found marked differences between number, location, and seasonality of male and female accidents. Through most of the year, the number of males and females involved in accidents were relative to their proportion in the population. However, during the breeding season, there were a higher proportion of males involved in accidents. The spatial distribution of accidents involving deer also varied by season and sex – outside of the breeding season, accidents involving male deer were concentrated in a few key locations in the state. The difference in the spatial location of male and female accidents could be the result of resource partitioning exhibited by the species, with males occupying broader ranges in peripheral habitats. This model can be used to predict high risk areas as they change over the different seasons and design warning programs and adaptive education to these target areas.

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