Stories tagged deer highway crashes

Jan
30
2007

Traffic danger: A scientific solution may be coming to prevent vehicle/deer collisions. Lining high-danger highways with canisters of wolf, coyote or bear urine may keep deer from crossing the roads.
Traffic danger: A scientific solution may be coming to prevent vehicle/deer collisions. Lining high-danger highways with canisters of wolf, coyote or bear urine may keep deer from crossing the roads.
With a personal driving record that includes three dead deer from the fenders of my car, I’m all in favor of finding new ways to prevent auto/deer collisions.

That’s why I was glad to read today’s press accounts of a new idea to help reduce highway deer accidents: the use of wolf, coyote or bear urine. That’s one of the new ideas being discussed this week at a summit of law enforcement officials from nine states meeting in the Twin Cities.

How exactly would that work? Canisters with urine would be placed along roadways that have high incidents of deer crashes. The thought is that the deer would be able to smell the urine and turn back on their path as not to get close to a predator.

It’s a very plausible idea in places like Minnesota and Wisconsin, where there are healthy populations of the predators. But what about places further south? That’s what members of the law enforcement group want to study. They don’t know if deer will react to the smell of urine from predators they’ve never faced before.

High fliers: These white tails in action show how fast and fleet deer can be out in the forests.
High fliers: These white tails in action show how fast and fleet deer can be out in the forests.
Minnesota is also working on a deer control project of its own. Using a dual set of light beams along side roads, the presence of a deer near the road could be sensed and send a signal to lights on deer crossing signs along that road. The lasers would be spaced far enough apart (six inches) so they couldn’t both be set off by smaller animals. The lights on the deer crossing sign would flash for about a minute in the vicinity of where the deer, or other large animal, crossed through the light beams.

At test of that plan will be done over the course of this year near Camden State Park in southwest Minnesota along Hwy. 23. Each year between 40 and 80 deer are killed by vehicles on that stretch of road.

Statewide, there were 4,176 vehicle/deer crashes in Minnesota in 2005 (statistics for 2006 are not yet compiled). Two people died in those crashes.

Other solutions to vehicle/deer crashes are not so popular with the public, including culling deer herds with special hunts.

But what I really want to know, how are they going to collect the predator urine? I, for one, am not going to go around to ask any wolves, coyotes or bears to pee into a little cup.