Effects of wildlife warning reflectors ("deer delineators") on wildlife-vehicle collisions in central Wyoming.
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Effects of wildlife warning reflectors ("deer delineators") on wildlife-vehicle collisions in central Wyoming.

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    • Abstract:
      The purpose of this study was to provide the Wyoming Department of Transportation with information about (1) the

      effectiveness of Streiter-Lite wildlife warning reflectors that had been installed in three locations within Wyoming’s District 5,

      and (2) preliminary analysis of patterns of deer-vehicle collisions across Wyoming and the habitat and road variables

      associated with collision hotspots. We evaluated reflector effectiveness in terms of their ability to reduce deer-vehicle

      collisions and modify deer road-crossing behavior. Using a series of experimental manipulations of reflectors, we showed

      that reflectors reduced deer-vehicle collisions by 32 percent and significantly reduced the number of high-risk deer road

      crossings (those in which deer ran into the road as a car was approaching). However, covering reflectors with white canvas

      bags – initially done with the intent of creating a control treatment that neutralized the reflectors – proved even more

      effective than leaving the reflectors exposed. White bags on posts resulted in 33 percent fewer collisions than when

      reflectors were exposed and significantly reduced the number of high-risk deer road crossings. It is likely that the white bags

      are more visible or reflective to deer than the red wildlife warning reflectors. A cost-benefit analysis suggests that the

      benefits of reflectors outweigh their initial materials and installation costs, but may not outweigh the net costs once

      maintenance is taken into account. Analysis of patterns of deer-vehicle collisions across the state showed that traffic

      volume, proximity to agricultural land, proximity to deer winter range and migration routes, and high speed limits are all

      strongly associated with high collision rates. On average, areas with a 55 mph speed limit have 36 percent and 55 percent

      fewer deer-vehicle collisions than areas with speed limits of 65 and 75 mph, respectively. Reducing nighttime speed limits in

      high collision areas may be a cost-effective strategy for mitigating deer-vehicle collisions in Wyoming.

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