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How Do You Keep Deer From Hitting Cars?

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As we get further into fall, and thus further into deer mating season, more and more of the animals amble their way across roads. This is problematic, both for the drivers on the road and the hapless deer. So, you have to wonder, isn’t there anything we can do to keep deer off the roads?

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One typical solution to deer problems is to increase deer hunting. The idea is that we are replacing the deer’s natural predators that we pushed out. However, according to the Humane Society of the United States, large deer kills like this simply don’t work.

Mostly, this is because deer bounce back from population downturns really quickly — thin the herd once, and the extra food available causes deer to give birth to twins or triplets. For this to work, you would need to keep up the population pressure while keeping neighboring deer from wandering into the area. This would be prohibitively complicated and expensive.

Instead, one of the simplest solutions is a fence. However, if you aren’t running electric fences, deer can pretty easily jump fences that aren’t at least 8 feet tall.

Other solutions are a little cleverer. Back in 2008, the first, from outside Fort Dix, New Jersey, also focuses on deterring deer from entering the road. There, sensors pick up approaching headlights and set off lights and whistles to scare the deer off.

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At the same time the Minnesota Department of Transportation started experimenting with ideas in a bit of the opposite direction. Its idea was a “laser fence,” which sends two beams between two posts. When a passing woodland creature breaks both beams it sets off an alarm that warns motorists that something is there.

Weirdly, a third idea out of Wyoming seemed to be highly effective, despite its low-budget approach: tying a white burlap sack around a post. Each sack cost $1.50. Researchers seem to think that the white burlap works because it mimics the deer’s white tails, which they display as a warning of danger.

Unfortunately, without taking incredibly drastic, expensive action, deer are going to continue to be a problem when they wander in the road. So, the best way to avoid a collision is still to change the way you drive to be safer.

News Sources: Humane Society of the United States, Jackson Hole News & Guide, CBS,