The cost of animal and car crashes

Jim Robbins details the increasing cost of accidents from deer and other animals.

Wildlife-related crashes are a growing problem on rural roads around the country. The accidents increased 50 percent from 1990 to 2004, based on the most recent federal data, according to the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University here.

The basic problem is that rural roads are being traveled by more and more people, many of them living in far-flung subdivisions. Each year, about 200 people are killed in as many as two million wildlife-related crashes at a cost of more than $8 billion, the institute estimated in a report prepared for the National Academies of Science.

Ninety percent of the accidents occur on rural two-lane roads, and the most common animal involved is a deer. . . .

The human death toll has risen from 111 in 1995 to around 200 in 2005, the most recent year for which figures are available. Officials say better designed highways would help lower the number.

An 80 percent increase in 10 years is pretty amazing. One cause that he doesn't mention in the piece is the increases in the number of animals. As the number of animals increases, the animals move into areas where people live.



Blogger Rob said...

I think this quote right here shows the author's slant: The basic problem is that rural roads are being traveled by more and more people, many of them living in far-flung subdivisions.

"It's those evil suburbanites moving out of the perfect city to live in rural subdivisions, destroying the pristine wonder of Bambi's nature!"

I bet this guy can't fathom that all of those rural subdivisions are nearly ideal habitat for Bambi and Thumper, so their populations are increasing quickly. Lots of food and no predation - human or otherwise. It's essentially an eternal post-clearcut early stage regeneration.

12/26/2007 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure about the overall increase in animal populations, although it's certainly plausible. It might be more interesting to study the migration of large herds of deer to suburban areas, because of hunting restrictions imposed by most states. In PA, deer are rather sparse in much of the rural community. However in the denser areas aroung Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, where hunting is much more difficult, you will see most of the deer/car collisions. I'm not sure if it's because people move farther away from the city, but I am certain that the task of reducing deer populations in most suburban areas is left up to the automobile.

We are fortunate where I live. Our state allows hunting in the nearby state park. Hunters take more than 300 deer per year out of a 1 sq. mi. area of land, but deer populations are still larger than the habitat will support.

In most of the US, there are only three things to reduce deer populations: natural predators, hunters, and automobiles. Unless anyone wants to bring bears into the suburbs, hunting is the most humane way to reduce populations.

Jim M.

2/24/2008 2:36 PM  

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