Preventing mule deer drownings in the Mohawk Canal, Arizona

  • Published source details Rautenstrauch K.R. & Krausman P.R. (1989) Preventing mule deer drownings in the Mohawk Canal, Arizona. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 17, 280-286.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Provide mammals with escape routes from canals

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation
  1. Provide mammals with escape routes from canals

    A study in 1982–1985 in a canal between farmland and desert in Arizona, USA (Rautenstrauch & Krausman 1989) found that ramps and ladders reduced mule deer Odocoileus emionus drownings. Of at least 282 times that deer fell into the canal over a 40-month period, three deer drowned, 116 escaped via steps, 79 via ramps and eight via metal ladders. A further 50 escaped without using structures and 10 were pulled out alive. Exit points of 16 deer were not determined. Over two previous years, before escape routes were improved, 18 deer drowned on the same canal section. A 15-km-long canal section, 5.5–10 m wide was studied. There were six dams, five with existing escape stairs. In 1980–1981, three escape ramps (3 m wide, at 25° to the direction of water flow with a 25% slope) were added. There was also one 1.3-m-wide iron ladder and seven reinforcement-bar ladders (date of installation not stated). Wire cables (3 cm diameter) across the water surface, directed trapped deer toward each escape structure. Deer were monitored and reported by canal workers and by monitoring tracks at 1–3 day intervals in June 1982 to September 1985 (total 478 visits). Drownings in 1979–1980 were logged by canal staff.

    (Summarised by: Ricardo Rocha)

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