Are white bags the solution to deer-related car crashes?


Deer crossing sign
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Could white canvas sacks be the answer to deer-related car crashes? Two Wyoming researchers think so and are conducting an experiment on four Wyoming highways where car-deer collisions are a frequent problem. This idea has officials at Utah’s Department of Transportation considering a similar program for the state.

Photo credit: Corinna Riginos

The wildlife warning indicators are simple white canvas sacks tied over reflectors along the highway. Researchers Corinna Riginos and Morgan Graham found that there were 65% fewer deer carcasses in the areas where they put white bags and that the indicators were only 32% effective if they switched the white bags to black bags, according to the Deseret News.

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"When we covered up the reflectors with a white canvas bag, basically because we just wanted to neutralize the reflectors, we found that the white canvas bag worked better than the reflectors," says Riginos. They suggest that the white bags may act in a similar way in which deer alert each other to danger: by flipping their white tails.

Regardless, this experiment has Utah interested as the state also has a high frequency of deer-car collisions each year. Last year, more than 6,000 animals were killed on Utah roads and the majority of the collisions were with mule deer and elk, according to the Deseret News.

"I think it's really interesting," says Brandon Weston, UDOT's director of environmental services. "It's good to see new innovations being tested. If it proves to be an effective solution, it's something we would definitely be interested in trying."


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