Could predator urine help curb deer car collisions? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Could predator urine help curb deer car collisions?

February 6, 2007

Albany -- Transportation officials say Deer car collisions are a major traffic problem in every state except Hawaii. South Georgia is no exception.

Eight states have come together to tackle the problem of crashes between deer and vehicles, and come up with an idea they think will prevent them. But  South Georgia animal experts think one of their ideas smells a little strange.  

Georgia Department of Natural Resources say the deer population in the state has doubled in the last thirty years, to more than one million. There is an estimated 50,000 deer car collisions each year in Georgia, accounting for one half of one percent of the injuries and fatalities among drivers.

An eight state funded research group is working on an idea to use predator urine along roadways to keep deer away. Black bear, coyote, or wolves urine would be sprayed along the road, theoretically driving the deer back into the woods.

Parks at Chehaw Executive Director Doug Porter doesn't think it will work. Porter said "the idea of spraying hundreds of miles of roadway with enough urine to deter deer just doesn't sound very practical to me."

Porter points out that squirrels have no fear of the bear or wolves at their Zoo, and thinks the deer would soon figure out there was nothing but odor. Chehaw is home to dozens of wild deer, and collisions along Philema Road are common. Porter says they are working to cut down on those crashes.  Porter said "one of things we have tried not to plant attractive deer food along the side of the road. That's why you don't see any wild flower gardens up and down Philema Road outside the park here. That's the kind of thing that would attract deer."

Porter and the D.H.R. Both agree the only practical and cost effective way to manage deer is through hunting. The best ways to avoid crashes is to slow down at dusk and dawn, the time deer are most active, and minimize distractions like using cell phones.

Georgia has a long deer season, almost five months, and have increased limits to cut back on the number of deer.  But the number of licensed hunters in Georgia has decreased steadily for the last 15 years, to about 300, 000 now.

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