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Deer die on the road


Photo: Dan Aamlid.

Each year, thousands of deer are hit by road traffic. The animals follow fixed routes and deer behaviour is little affected by roads. Management boundaries should therefore follow the deer's migration routes, and not necessarily today's administrative boundaries.

The number of deer is growing. Sales of game meat and hunting rights are important sources of income for landowners. At the same time the large number of deer leads to conflicts, in the form of grazing damage to forests and meadows, and game being run over along the roads.

A total of 5501 roe deer, red deer and moose were hit by road traffic in the hunting season 2014-2015. There is a particularly high risk for accidents where infield grazing is located along the road and the deer cross the road to seek out these pastures. NIBIO Research Scientist Erling Meisingset has shown that the clearance of forests and reduced speed limits will be able to halve the number of accidents involving deer. These are simple measures that can give significant savings for society.

GPS tagging has provided new knowledge about how the deer move around and what areas they use. The researchers have examined the proportion of deer that migrate between winter and summer quarters, when the animals migrate and how they use the landscape throughout the year. This is knowledge that can contribute to better management of game resources.

It is a challenge for game management that the deer wander and graze across administrative units.

"It is the management who should adapt to the deer and not vice versa. Today, there is a mismatch between deer land use and the size of the management units", points out Meisingset.

Knowledge of the animals’ migrations and land use is important when granting hunting quotas, in order to hinder too large populations of deer and to be able to determine how many should be hunted.

"Collaboration across administrative boundaries will in the future be crucial to how we succeed with a sustainable management of deer and thus provide a good basis for developing hunting as a source of income for landowners", says Meisingset finally.