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Wildlife Vehicle Collisions Cost Over $200 Million in California

Sep 21, 2016 05:04 AM EDT

Collisions involving vehicles and wildlife in California highways cost above $225 million per year, a new study found.

The findings of this new study from the University of California, Davis are based on traffic-incident reports, which identified hotspots of concern for both public safety and wildlife conservation. A database of wildlife-vs-vehicle collisions was created based on incident reports from the California Highway Patrol and other emergency respondents.

"By identifying the cost and locations of these conflicts, we hope to help state and local government entities better protect wildlife and drivers from collisions," Fraser Shilling, co-director of the UC Davis Road Ecology Center and director of the California Roadkill Observation System, said in a press release.

"Since the cost of wildlife-vehicle conflict equals about 2 percent of California's transportation budget, it would seem reasonable to earmark 2 percent of that budget for efforts aimed at preventing incidents that threaten the safety of both animals and people."

According to UC Davis Road Ecology Center 2016 report, wild animals were involved in about 6,000 reported traffic incidents in California between February 2015 and February 2016, and about half of these incidents involved collisions.

The 2016 report identified roadkill hotspots around California, which were sourced from volunteer scientist observations submitted to the California Roadkill Observation System. The report locates stretches of highway where wildlife-vehicle conflicts occurred in 2015. These cases involved animals running across the road, vehicles colliding with wildlife or accidents that occurred when people swerved to avoid animals. According to the researchers, an estimated 50,000 deer are hit by vehicles annually in California.

The California Roadkill Observation System developed an interactive map that shows locations of incidents involving wildlife around the state for the last 90 days. The map is especially helpful during fall when collisions are more likely to occur. According to the report, hotspots were identified in Southern California, San Francisco Bay Area, Sierra Nevada foothills, the desert and Sierra Nevada, the northern mountains, the north coast, and the central coast.

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