Conservation Evidence strives to be as useful to conservationists as possible. Please take our survey to help the team improve our resource.

Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Mule deer behavior at a highway underpass exit

Published source details

Reed D.F. (1981) Mule deer behavior at a highway underpass exit. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 45, 542-543


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

Install barrier fencing and underpasses along roads Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A study in 1974–1979 along a highway in Colorado, USA (Reed 1981; same experimental set-up as Reed et al. 1975) found that an underpass, in an area with roadside fencing, continued to be used by mule deer Odocoileus hemionus 4–9 years after installation Between 1.3 and 5.8 deer/morning (average 2.3) were observed exiting the underpass each year (total 298 deer). Deer behavior suggested that 75% of animals exiting the underpass were reluctant, wary, or frightened. Eleven hesitated just inside the exit and 23 showed wariness or excitability after exiting the underpass. Behavioural responses of deer to the underpass were reported not to have changed substantially over 10 years (1970–1979) of spring-summer use. In 1970, a concrete box underpass (3 m high, 3 m wide, 30 m long) was installed under a 3.2-km section of highway. Entrances were separated from the road by 2.4-m-high barrier fencing. Deer were observed from 130 m away, at 05:00–07:00 h, on 9–30 days (average 16), during each spring/summer migration in 1974–1979. Behavioral responses were likened (but not compared numerically) with those from earlier monitoring that commenced in 1970.

(Summarised by Rebecca K. Smith)