Deer-vehicle-collisions spike on state highways October 26, 2014 California, U.C. Davis Road Ecology Center

California Deer and Transportation, News and Information Archive 



Deer-vehicle-collisions spike on state highways October 26, 2014 California
Photograph of mule deer taken 10/25 on I-280 by Kathryn Harrold

According to the California Roadkill Observation Systems (CROS; http://wildlifecrossing.net/california) the rate of deer deaths from collisions with vehicles is much higher this year than in the last 5 years. Volunteer observers report carcasses that they
see on or near roads on the CROS website. The system is the largest of its kind in the world (volunteer-science) and second only to a government-run system in Sweden for displaying wildlife-vehicle-collisions. The website has been operating since 2009, has received over 28,000 observations and has over 1,000 registered users. Accidents involving deer are of particular concern at highway speeds because of the high risk of damage to the vehicle, injury and even death of the driver. October started out with “Watch out for Wildlife Week”, sponsored by Caltrans, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Road Ecology Center. It finished with twice the rate of deer deaths for the month, compared to the previous 4 years. In fact, for almost every month of 2014 more deer were killed than usual for each month, with 2013 being a close second. The fall usually brings more collisions with deer because of the seasonal rut. According to Road Ecology Center Co-Director Fraser Shilling: “The spike in deer deaths on state highways this year, following on the record-breaking year before, suggests that wildlife are moving around more because of the extended drought. Because for the most part, state highways lack fencing and safe passages for animals across the highways, more deer movement means more accidents with vehicles.

”The University of California, Davis Road Ecology Center is the only research and education organization of its kind in the US. It combines traditional undergraduate and graduate student education with outreach and education involving volunteer-scientists and other organizations. It specializes in studying wildlife movement and wildlife-vehicle collisions, the effects of sea level rise on coastal infrastructure, and methods for evaluating and valuing the natural and community systems affected by roads and
highways. The Center operates several large wildlife monitoring systems: http://wildlifecrossing.net (live and dead wildlife on roads) and http://wildlifeobserver.net (live animals crossing safely under highways). In February, the Center will co-sponsor the Fourth Biennial California Connectivity Forum with Caltrans support. 

Contact: Fraser Shilling, Ph.D., Center Co-Director; fmshilling@ucdavis.edu; 530-752-7859;
http://roadecology.ucdavis.edu

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