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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Effectiveness of highway crosswalk structures at reducing deer-vehicle collisions

Published source details

Lehnert M.E. & Bissonette J.A. (1997) Effectiveness of highway crosswalk structures at reducing deer-vehicle collisions. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 25, 809-818


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Install wildlife crosswalks Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A replicated, before-and-after, site comparison study in 1991–1995 along two highways in Utah, USA (Lehnert & Bissonette 1997) found that designated crossing points with barrier fencing did not significantly reduce road deaths of mule deer Odocoileus hemionus. Deaths decreased on both fenced and unfenced sections but the rate of decline was not significantly higher on fenced road sections with crossings (after: 36–46 deer fatalities over 15 months; before: 111–148 over 36 months) than over the same period on unfenced sections (after: 34–63; before: 75–123). In September 1994, four and five crossing points were installed along a two- and a four-lane highway respectively. Fencing (2.3 m high) restricted access to roadside resources and directed deer to crossing points. At these points, deer could jump a 1-m-high fence into funnel shaped fencing (2.3 m high) with a narrow opening to the road. One-way gates allowed deer trapped along the road to escape. Three warning signs, 152 m apart before crossings, and painted lines across the road at crossings, indicated to drivers that it was a crossing point. Road deaths were monitored weekly along treatment and nearby control roads before and after crossing installation, from October 1991 to November 1995.

(Summarised by Rebecca K. Smith)

Install one-way gates or other structures to allow wildlife to leave roadways Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A study in 1994–1995 along two highways through grassland and shrubland in Utah, USA (Lehnert & Bissonette 1997) found that one-way gates were used by some mule deer Odocoileus hemionus to escape a highway, but most did not cross through them. From 243 instances in which deer approached gates from the highway, 40 deer (16%) used gates to leave the highway. None of 128 deer that approached from the side away from the highway passed through gates. In September 1994, five and four crossing points were installed along a two- and a four-lane highway respectively. Fencing, 2.3 m high, directed deer to crossing points. Warning signs alerted approaching motorists to crossing points. Four one-way gates were installed at each crossing to allow deer trapped along the road to escape. One-way gate specifications were not detailed in the paper. Earthen track beds at 12 randomly selected one-way gates were checked at least once each week from September 1994 to November 1995 (except January–March 1995).

(Summarised by Rebecca K. Smith)

Install barrier fencing along roads Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A controlled, before-and-after study in 1991–1995 along two highways in Utah, USA (Lehnert & Bissonette 1997) found that barrier fencing with designated crossing points and warning signs did not reduce road deaths of mule deer Odocoileus hemionus. Deaths fell on both fenced and unfenced sections but the rate of fall was not significantly higher on fenced road sections (after: 36–46; before: 111–148) than on unfenced sections (after: 34–63; before: 75–123). The number of deer on road verges fell by 34–55% following fence installation. In September 1994, four and five crossing points were installed along a two- and a four-lane highway respectively. Fencing, 2.3 m high, restricted access to roadsides and directed deer towards crossing points. At these points, deer could jump a 1-m-high fence into funnel shaped fencing (2.3 m high) with a narrow opening to the road. One-way gates allowed deer trapped along the road to escape. Three warning signs, spaced 152 m apart, and painted lines across the road at crossings, indicated to drivers that it was a crossing point. Road deaths (weekly) and behaviour were monitored along fenced and nearby unfenced roads before and after installation, from October 1991 to November 1995. Spotlight count surveys were undertaken twice/month.

(Summarised by Rebecca K. Smith)