What Are Some Ways to Avoid Killing Wildlife on Roads?

Stotting mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) at Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada. Attribution: Steven Fine.

Highways, freeways, and even smaller rural roads are big barriers to wildlife and prevent natural movement of individuals in and out of local areas. Not only does that have implications for the genetic viability of populations as inbreeding becomes an issue, but up to 2 million animals are killed by vehicle collisions each year — and that number may be rising. So how can you do your part to prevent the killing of wildlife on our roads?

In addition to the general advice of slowing down in rural areas and scanning the sides of roads for animals, Maureen Roche noted in a Facebook comment that “deer whistles in [your car’s] front grill deter deer, cows, sheep, [and] others.” Deer whistles are attachments to cars that produce high-pitched noises (out of the range of human hearing) when air passes through them at a certain speed, usually 30 mph or higher. While these devices may be effective to some degree, they certainly aren’t something drivers should rely upon solely.

“Slow down around curves,” added Susan Estling. “If I know an area has frequent deer crossings I go slower than the speed limit. If I see one deer starting to cross the road I stop because there’s usually more following behind them.” You can also turn on your hazard lights when you spot a roadside animal to alert drivers behind you of the danger ahead.

There’s no silver bullet for reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions short of removing all vehicles from our roads. Since that isn’t going to happen any time soon, we’ll have to make a concerted group effort to drive more slowly in areas frequented by wildlife, keep a watchful eye on road shoulders, and let others around us know when there are roadside animals around.

Aaron Huelsman

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