Use of roadside deer removal to reduce deer-vehicle collisions
Identification of management tools to reduce the incidence of deer–vehicle collisions (DVCs) is important to improve motorist safety. Sharpshooting to reduce white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus; deer) along roads has proven successful in urban situations but has not been evaluated in undeveloped areas. We used a before-after-control-impact (BACI) design to evaluate the use of sharpshooting to reduce DVCs along roads on the uninhabited U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site, South Carolina, USA, during 2011–2017. We removed 242 deer from 4 treatment roads during 2015 and 2016, with 2-year removal rates per road averaging 5.0 deer/km of road (range 4.0–5.8). We monitored accident rates as DVCs per million vehicle-km traveled (VKT) during annual cycles (March–February) following the initial removal and during the 7 months (March–September) following removals in spring and the 5 months (October–February) following removals in fall. The response in accident rates varied among the annual cycle, spring, and fall. The BACI effect indicated that removal treatments reduced accident rate by 1.184 DVCs per million VKT (P = 0.081) over the annual cycle and by 1.528 DVCs per million VKT (P = 0.023) following spring removals, but following fall removals we detected no effect (P = 0.541). Relative to the pre-removal accident rate for removal roads, the estimated treatment effect on an annual basis equated to a 39.4% reduction in accidents and during spring equated to a 50.8% reduction in accidents. We conclude that sharpshooting along roads in undeveloped areas can be a viable tool to reduce DVCs and can be useful in areas where population control via hunter harvest is not practical or desirable.