Millions of animals are killed by vehicle collisions each year. As mitigation measures, wildlife warning reflectors have become increasingly popular, although clear evidence for their effectiveness is lacking. A reason for inconclusive results in the literature may be that most previous studies on the effectiveness of wildlife warning reflectors compare animal-vehicle collision rates with and without reflectors, a setting characterised by low event rates and weak experimental control. Animal behaviour can be expected to provide a more direct evidence for a possible effect of reflectors. In this study, we analyse roe deer behaviour in the presence of a blue semicircle reflector, one of the most frequently applied wildlife warning reflectors in Germany and other parts of Europe. Behavioural response to these reflectors (classified as no reaction, vigilance, short-distance flight and long-distance flight) was recorded both under controlled experimental conditions with captive roe deer and for free-ranging roe deer at road sections with traffic occurrence. We used generalised linear mixed models (GLMMs) to test if reflector presence induced threat-related behaviour (vigilance, flight) and movement away from the reflectors. We found no significant evidence that the light stimulus emitted by reflectors was perceived as a threat or induced evasive movement. We conclude that our study provides no evidence that blue semicircle reflectors induce behaviour in roe deer that seems suitable to reduce roe deer-vehicle collisions.
European Journal of Wildlife Research – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 14, 2017
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