VDOT: Deer Fence

VDOT: Deer Fence


Getting across a busy interstate is easy
…if you’re a flying reindeer. But for earthbound species, that crossing
can be dangerous for man and beast alike. Virginia is one of the worst states in terms of the number of
deer-vehicle collisions every year. So every year there’s more than 60,000
crashes with deer in our state alone. They’ll cause a lot of damage to your vehicle and
every year they cause at least a couple deaths. Bridget Donaldson is looking to change that, starting with
two stretches of Interstate 64 in Albemarle County. So at both sites, every year there were
at least seven crashes with deer despite the fact that there was an existing underpass they
could use. We evaluated those two structures for two years. We had the cameras along the roadside right adjacent to the
structures and then we had cameras in the underpasses too so we could tell how many wildlife,
deer especially, were using the underpasses versus how many would decide
to not use it and cross the road. For the box culvert, we would see bears approach it
but they just would walk away. Deer were not a big fan of that dark box culvert
either so a lot of them hesitated and turned back. Rather than use the existing underpasses
many deer would wander across the interstate. The Research Council addressed the problem by installing
a fence for half a mile in each direction of the underpasses. The eight-foot tall structure acts as a funnel directing
deer and other wildlife to the culvert and bridges where they may safely pass under I-64. The
early results show the project is a great success! I’m so excited about what we’re finding so far. There’s only been one crash with deer at both sites. We’re seeing over a 90% reduction already. The f ence is making two problematic stretches
of highway significantly safer for motorists and saving a few bucks–in more ways than one. Using the results of our study, we’re hoping
to find other locations that this could be applied and areas where there’s a lot of hot spots with deer crashes because it’s cheap and it’s incredibly effective and it doesn’t take very many deer crash reductions to make up
for the cost of that fencing. Given what we’re finding already there’s going to be a savings of well over
half a million dollars per site that’s fenced.

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