Life in the Fast Lane [electronic resource] : Road Crossing Behavior of Mule Deer in a Wildland-Urban Interface
- Los Alamos, N.M. : Los Alamos National Laboratory, 2012.
Oak Ridge, Tenn. : Distributed by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, U.S. Dept. of Energy.
- Additional Creators:
- Los Alamos National Laboratory
United States. Department of Energy. Office of Scientific and Technical Information
- In 2009, approximately 260,000 animal-vehicle collisions were reported in the United States, resulting in 12,000 human injuries and 173 human fatalities. Research has focused on identifying factors associated with high densities of animal-vehicle collisions, including variables such as traffic speed and volume, road design, topographic features, vegetative cover, and local deer or elk (Cervus elaphus) abundance. The purposes of this study were to document how often and where mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) crossed roads in a western United States wildland-urban interface area, and to relate deer road-crossing behavior to deer-vehicle collision locations. Seven adult mule deer (four males [M] and three females [F]) were captured and collared with GPS-enabled collars during December 2001 and January 2002. Five of the seven deployed collars were recovered. None of the roads in the study area appeared to act as a substantial barrier to deer passage. Deer home ranges straddled highways and primary, secondary, and tertiary arterial roads. Deer crossed all types of roads. The average number of times deer crossed road during 24 hours of monitoring ranged from 2.1 to 7.0. Deer in the Los Alamos townsite avoided crossing roads during day and before sunset. Deer-vehicle accidents occurred at 350 percent of the level expected after sunset. All other time periods had fewer accidents than expected. The distribution of accidents across time periods was not similar to the distribution of road crossings across time periods for any deer. Within Los Alamos County there was a clear trend for deer-vehicle collisions to occur on roads with speed limits > 35 mph. Deer in the townsite frequently crossed roads with lower speed limits; therefore, the reason for the paucity of accidents along these roads was evidently the ability of drivers to detect deer (or the ability of deer to detect vehicles) and respond before an accident occurred. There was a significant but not strong correlation between the density of accidents and the density of road crossings. This was probably related to the high number of deer crossings of tertiary arterial roads, where accidents were not likely to occur.
- Published through SciTech Connect.
Hansen, Leslie A.; Biggs, James; Bennett, Kathryn D.; Bare, Carey; Sherwood, Sherri R.
- Funding Information:
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