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Deer Mortality on Roadways in Lunenburg County, NS - Analysis and Recommendations

An Analysis with Recommendations by Brandon Elliot and Andrew Knapp, completed as part of fulfilling the requirements for the Natural Resources and Environmental Technology Program, NSCC, Bridgewater, NS.

Since 2007, there have been over 1000 White tail deer vs car accidents in just Lunenburg County (Nova Scotia) alone.

This research involves using available data to identify the 5 worst places in Lunenburg County that result in accidents that involve White Tail Deer.

Our job was to generate a list of 5 locations (See figure 1) in Lunenburg County from an excel document with the accident reports incorporated that were the worst and write an assessment on each one. After completing the analysis we would come up with a list of affordable and practical mitigation recommendations based on the location for each site. We hope that our information and research will lead to changes within these areas and the County through better signage, fences, and other precautionary infrastructure.

We needed to know why we need to prevent this from happening before we could start anything. State Farm estimates that 1.09 million deer-vehicle collisions occurred between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011 throughout North America. The average property damage of these incidents was $3,171 (James, N. 2012, April 30). We needed to then figure out what the best, cost effective methods were for avoiding accidents and came up with a list that included: 8 foot high fencing, underpass/overpass, signage (deer and speed), and signage with lights (Wildlife Collision Prevention Program - See Appendix A). Through more research we found that cars slowed down when they saw the signs—speeds declined by 50 percent. And, deer mortality rates fell between 41.5 and 58.6 percent (James, N. 2012, April 30).

In early March, Emma Vost from DNR Kentville sent us an excel spreadsheet packed full of useful information such as coordinates, dates, whether the deer was injured or dead, and a few other tips on how to approach this project. From the information Emma provided we were able to generate a map so we could visualize the worst areas in the county of Lunenburg.

When we first received the data on the excel spreadsheet we had to filter and sort, until we narrowed it down, to only data that we found useful for the project. The coordinates were all in the wrong order so we had to convert them to Latitude and Longitude. To figure out the worst five places in Lunenburg County we used a heat map, the heat map highlighted the areas in the County that had the most points in colours.

Figure.1 Heat Map of Lunenburg County Whitetail Deer Accidents

Conclusion:

This report was a study of the deer mortality rates in Lunenburg County. By studying each area and filling out the requirements, we came to conclusions on what the proper recommendations were for each area and how viable they are. Many of the recommendations were small investments that could make the difference within the area. We also have concluded that none of the areas could afford a massive costly construction underpass or overpass to help fix the issue. We believe the study was a success in our opinion, but we will continue to encourage more research to be done on this topic across Canada, as there isn’t much information or research available.

To read the full report and access references, etc. click the button below to download the full document.

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