Addressing Deer Vehicle Accidents
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Addressing Deer Vehicle Accidents at the Community Scale. Elizabeth I. Rogers, Ph.D. Dean B. Premo, Ph.D. White Water Associates, Inc. Amasa, MI. Creating a Town Deer-Vehicle Accident Management Plan. Project Goals.

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Addressing Deer Vehicle Accidents

at the Community Scale

Elizabeth I. Rogers, Ph.D.

Dean B. Premo, Ph.D.

White Water Associates, Inc.

Amasa, MI



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Project Goals

  • Use the existing GIS project to understand deer-vehicle accident patterns

  • Create a deer-vehicle accident management plan

  • Assess data collection and monitoring needs for the future


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The starting point: Town GIS Project

  • Town of Amherst, (roads, boundary)

  • Land Use Layer (urban, suburban, and rural land uses)

  • Deer-Vehicle Accident Management Zones


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Town of Amherst, NY, Land Uses

The town has abundant open space that provides habitat for deer.


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Multi-year record of DVA’s

  • DVAs 1991-2000

  • Total: 3295 DVAs

  • Raw data difficult (or impossible) to assess visually.


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Deer Population Counts

  • Aerial late winter counts by natural resource agency using visual polygons

  • Displayed here as densities (standardized to area)


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Population Counts by Year

  • Highest population in 1994 before lethal control took effect [statistically significant]

  • 625 deer killed by bait and shoot and nuisance permits (1994-1996)

  • 2001 count higher than 1998 [statistically significant]


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Population Densities by Management Zone

Before, During, and After Lethal Control

Before

During

After


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When do most collisions occur?

  • Time of Day?

  • Month?


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DVAs by Time of Day

  • Most accidents occur in evening and night


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DVAs by Month

  • Highest number of collisions occur in the fall and early winter

Nearly 1/2 of all collisions occur in the fall


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Where do most collisions occur?

  • In which parts of town?

  • In relation to what features and land uses?


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Density of DVA’s by Management Zone

More accidents in the rural parts of town where development and ample open space are intermixed.


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Open land

Deer population

45 mph roads

Businesses

Single residences

35 mph roads

Road density

DVA Density Correlations

Examined by Management Zone

+


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DVA Density within 1/4 Mile of Parks

To deer, all parks are not equal.

Even some small parks have a high density of DVAs nearby


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DVA “Hot Spots” 1991-2000

Calculated DVAs/square mile (using density function in ArcView Spatial Analyst®)

Most accidents concentrate where development and open space interface.


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“Hot Spots” and Land Uses

  • Parks and open space may influence movement patterns

  • High traffic volume also plays potential role.

  • New development appears to exacerbate the problem


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Detailed View of “Hot Spot”

A mixture of land uses typifies most “hot spots.”


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Typical “Hot Spot” Land Uses

A mixture of land uses with about 50% open land and most of the rest developed


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Typical Non - “Hot Spot” Land Uses

Areas without “hot spots” differ in land uses

They are dominated by development or by open land

MZ1

MZ3

MZ6



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Urban “Hot Spot”

  • Combination of:

  • Deer Habitat (green space, office parks, and vacant land)

  • New development (displacing deer)

  • High people density


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DVA Management Plan

INTEGRATED AND ADAPTIVE

TWO FOCI:

Whole Town

“Hot Spot”

THREE APPROACHES:

Influence Human Behavior

Influence Deer Behavior

Affect Deer Population


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Support Management Actions with Data

Use data to...

  • Avoid lawsuits

  • Support environmental assessments

  • Inform adaptive management plans


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Whole Town Focus

  • Public education (press releases, pamphlets, posters)

  • Drivers’ education

  • Enforce or enact “no deer feeding” laws

  • Encourage use of nuisance permits

  • If needed, enact professional lethal control


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“Hot Spot” Focus

  • Deploy seasonal warning signs

  • Facilitate press and media coverage of sign deployment and “hot spots”

  • Enforce speed limits in areas of “hot spots”

  • Fence and/or improve roadside visibility with brushing at selected corridor “hot spots”



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“Hot Spot” Warning Sign

  • Novel sign

  • Seasonally deployed during high crash period

  • Deploy at selected “hot spots”

Sign from Kent County, MI


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Challenges in Assessing Results

  • Small sample sizes

  • Lack of independence

  • Variability in deployment sites

Difficulty in conducting statistical tests has been a perpetual problem in testing of warning reflectors


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Information Wish List

  • DVA database for theme Georeferenced Driver data (age, gender) Time (24 hours, date)

  • Road (type, speed limit)

  • Land use (including potential deer habitat)

  • Development locations

  • Natural features (streams, lakes, hills)

  • Deer population counts or estimates


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Monitoring Suggestions

  • Need ongoing multi-year data on deer populations and DVAs

  • Summarize changes in patterns with GIS spatial analysis

  • Visually examine changes in locations and intensities of “hot spots”

  • Statistically test for significant changes in DVA and population numbers when possible

  • Monitor health of vegetation in parks


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Ultimate Goal

To coexist with deer


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