Mitigating Deer-Vehicle Collisions through the Evaluation and Improvement of Local Deer Density Reduction Countermeasures and Training to States

Focus Area

Wildlife & Ecosystems


Natural Resources







Research Idea Scope

In a selection of states, and across a gradient of ecological and transportation factors, this experimental research would test for correlations among areas of known deer abundance and established rates of DVCs. This study will take into account differences in traffic volumes, road densities, speed limits, usage patterns, adjacent land use, and the timing of crashes. It is believed that this approach will expose thresholds at which deer population density becomes a more or less overriding factor in the frequency of DVCs. Effectiveness of animal control efforts on crash mitigation is supported at the statewide scale from the experiences of several states.

Experimental and control areas will be selected based on the ability to select for critical dependent variables, as well as the ability to implement essential treatments and sustain them for several years. Baseline data will be secured before experimentation over a statistically meaningful period of up to several years. Treatments may consist of regulated hunting, sharp shooting, or other acceptable and measurable density management techniques. Follow-up treatments and data collection will be conducted over a 3-year experimental period. Final results
will be published.  

In addition to the proposed research stated here, a best practices manual on motor vehicle and wildlife collisions is close to completion and will serve as the place to go to answer questions not only on best practices for reducing these collisions, but how to fund solutions. In order to insure successful implementation of the manual, a training course should be developed. This course should be prepared in modules so that it can be given in whole or part depending on a state’s needs.

Urgency and Payoff

Deer–vehicle collisions (DVCs) on U.S. roadways are a serious safety concern. DVCs cost consumers, businesses, and governments hundreds of millions of dollars annually. In addition to the 100 to 200 people killed and the several thousand people injured each year in these collisions, there are environmental consequences associated with the deaths of hundreds of thousands of deer.

Deer–vehicle crashes have secondary, negative influences on the driving public’s
attitudes towards wildlife, roadways, and the agencies that manage them. Direct costs to transportation and resource agencies are rising, notably in roadway management, law enforcement, carcass disposal, data management and communication with the driving public, trucking industry, and insurance industry. An established contributor to deer–vehicle crashes is local deer abundance. Replicated tests with documented outcomes of mitigation achieved through local deer herd reduction are essential and must begin now.

Suggested By

Transportation Research Board 2002 Environmental Research Needs Conference Notes Mary Gray, Federal Highway Administration, 360/753-9487 May 9, 2006

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