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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

project goals
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
the starting point town gis project
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
town of amherst ny land uses
Town of Amherst, NY, Land Uses

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

multi year record of dva s
Multi-year record of DVA’s
  • DVAs 1991-2000
  • Total: 3295 DVAs
  • Raw data difficult (or impossible) to assess visually.
deer population counts
Deer Population Counts
  • Aerial late winter counts by natural resource agency using visual polygons
  • Displayed here as densities (standardized to area)
population counts by year
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]
population densities by management zone
Population Densities by Management Zone

Before, During, and After Lethal Control




dvas by time of day
DVAs by Time of Day
  • Most accidents occur in evening and night

dvas by month
DVAs by Month
  • Highest number of collisions occur in the fall and early winter

Nearly 1/2 of all collisions occur in the fall

where do most collisions occur
Where do most collisions occur?
  • In which parts of town?
  • In relation to what features and land uses?
density of dva s by management zone
Density of DVA’s by Management Zone

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

dva density correlations
Open land

Deer population

45 mph roads


Single residences

35 mph roads

Road density

DVA Density Correlations

Examined by Management Zone


dva density within 1 4 mile of parks
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

dva hot spots 1991 2000
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.

hot spots and land uses
“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
detailed view of hot spot
Detailed View of “Hot Spot”

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

typical hot spot land uses
Typical “Hot Spot” Land Uses

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

typical non hot spot land uses
Typical Non - “Hot Spot” Land Uses

Areas without “hot spots” differ in land uses

They are dominated by development or by open land




urban hot spot
Urban “Hot Spot”
  • Combination of:
  • Deer Habitat (green space, office parks, and vacant land)
  • New development (displacing deer)
  • High people density
dva management plan
DVA Management Plan



Whole Town

“Hot Spot”


Influence Human Behavior

Influence Deer Behavior

Affect Deer Population

support management actions with data
Support Management Actions with Data

Use data to...

  • Avoid lawsuits
  • Support environmental assessments
  • Inform adaptive management plans
whole town focus
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
hot spot focus
“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”
hot spot warning sign
“Hot Spot” Warning Sign
  • Novel sign
  • Seasonally deployed during high crash period
  • Deploy at selected “hot spots”

Sign from Kent County, MI

challenges in assessing results
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

information wish list
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
monitoring suggestions
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
ultimate goal
Ultimate Goal

To coexist with deer