Would you believe something as simple as a burlap sack may help reduce car-deer collisions?
Researchers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming have just released the results of a three-year study funded by the Wyoming Department of Transportation that tested how well roadside reflectors work as a deer deterrent.
What they found out was surprising: a piece of white cloth or canvas bag works better.
The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports that researchers monitored deer behavior and activity on three different stretches of highway. They also monitored how often deer were struck by vehicles.
One road had wildlife warning reflectors. The other two were fitted with white or black bags as a control. The results showed some interesting figures.
"What we see is we have the highest number of carcasses ... in places were reflectors were covered with the black bags," researcher Corinna Riginos said at a public talk. "We have intermediate levels where the reflectors are exposed, and the lowest levels of carcasses where the reflectors are covered with the white bags."
Riginos says the white bags proved to be almost 65% more effective than the black bags. While researchers are still unsure of the exact reasons for the bag's effectiveness, Riginos says it may be because it resembles the underside of a deer's tail. They may see it as a warning from other deer.
The findings could mean more cost effective deer deterrents than specially-designed deer reflectors that cost $8,000 to $10,000 a mile to install, according to the reports. The canvas bags in the study only cost $1.50 each.
"Sticking a white bag on a post was much more cost-effective than putting a Swarovski crystal reflector on there," Riginos said.
Wyoming has a high number of deer-vehicle accidents. It will be interesting to see if the Wyoming department of transportation attempts to put this low-cost deterrent into effect.