Development and evaluation of strategies to reduce the incidence of deer-vehicle collisions (phase III) : operational field trail, part A.
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Development and evaluation of strategies to reduce the incidence of deer-vehicle collisions (phase III) : operational field trail, part A.

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    • Abstract:
      To better understand deer movements that might contribute to deer-vehicle collisions (DVC), we conducted preparatory field work

      necessary for an operational field trial of the efficacy of a 1.2-m woven-wire fence with a top-mounted outrigger. We worked with

      officials from GDOT and the Federal Highway Administration-Georgia Division to select a 5-mile segment of I-20 near Madison,

      Georgia. During February-June 2012 and January-April 2013, we captured 32 deer within the 5-mile test roadway and fitted them

      each with a Global Positioning System collar, programmed to collect 24 locations per day, and monitored surviving deer until April

      2014. Each deer was classified as: (1) frequent user, (2) occasional user, or (3) rare user based on highway right-of-way (ROW)

      utilization. Frequent users (359.5 + 41.7 m) were closer (P < 0.01; F2, 27=8.46) to the median of I-20 than occasional (715.3 + 236.4 m)

      and rare (766.6 + 72.3 m) users, but occasional and rare users were the same distance (P > 0.05) from the median. Within the frequent

      user group, the percentage of ROW locations for individuals ranged from 1.7% to 25.8%. Deer ROW use occurred primarily during

      nighttime hours with about 37% of locations within the ROW occurring between 2200-0300 hours. Increased ROW use by female

      deer that were frequent users during May and June was likely due to females selecting the ROW for parturition. We also evaluated the

      annual distribution of DVCs in Georgia based on records of DVCs from 2005-2012 (n = 45,811) to identify peaks in DVCs for each of

      Georgia’s 159 counties, compared to deer breeding data from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. We observed high

      concurrence among timing of peak DVCs, peak conception, and peak rut movement. To potentially reduce DVC risk, we recommend:

      (1) lethal removal of frequent ROW users, (2) warning motorists of the increased risk of encountering deer in the ROW during deer

      breeding seasons and while driving late at night, and/or (3) modifying ROW habitat to help maintain ROW fences and reduce food

      and cover resources that can attract deer to roadways.

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