Highway 280, between Woodside and San Mateo - look out for the walk-in deer traps and rifle dart guns.
Mercury News/Jason Green, 11/23/11. "A San Jose woman's concern about the number of dead deer cropping up on Interstate Highway 280 has sparked an 18-month study of ways to reduce collisions between the animals and vehicles. Next month, the state Department of Fish and Game will help a team of researchers from UC-Davis capture 15 deer along I-280 -- between Woodside and San Mateo -- and fit them with radio tracking collars. When the devices fall off six months later, a second group of animals will be studied. Ultimately, the team plans to use the collars to figure out where the deer are crossing and present potential solutions to the California Department of Transportation, the agency responsible for the highway.
"The cheapest solution is to get people to slow down. I always pick that as solution No. 1. Solution No. 2 is directional fencing and underpasses," said Fraser Shilling, the project's lead scientist and co-director of the UC-Davis Road Ecology Center, which studies the impacts of roads on wildlife. "If we can avoid one person getting killed because we put these underpasses in, then it's worth it," he added.
On Sept. 22, San Jose resident Daniel Strickland, 27, suffered fatal injuries in a crash that occurred after his car hit a deer on I-280 near Alpine Road, according to the California Highway Patrol. Strickland stopped on the highway after the collision and was struck from behind by another driver. About 300,000 collisions between vehicles and wildlife take place nationwide every year, resulting in 26,000 injuries and 200 deaths, according to a 2008 Federal Highway Administration report to Congress. The costs associated with deer strikes alone add up to $8.5 billion annually. "Deer just don't respond well to headlights and fast-moving metal," Shilling said.
A San Jose resident who goes by the pseudonym of Rose Isarose out of privacy concerns said the idea to study wildlife strikes came to her two years ago as she drove down a stretch of I-280 littered with deer carcasses. "My daughter is going to be driving soon," she said. "And there's no way I want a deer to go through her windshield." Isarose said she reached out to Caltrans officials, who quickly warmed to the idea of studying deer movement along the highway. With their support, she pulled together the UC-Davis research team and landed a $320,000 grant through the federal Transportation Enhancement program. "She was persuasive with us, with Caltrans. She really got the ball rolling," said Shilling, noting the project's unusual genesis.
Between Dec. 2 and 15, motorists may see Department of Fish and Game officials pulled over on the side of I-280 to check walk-in deer traps and possibly firing rifle-like dart guns on nearby roads. "All captures will be conducted from specially marked California Department of Fish and Game vehicles, but at a glance the dart guns may look like rifles and we don't want to alarm motorists," research team member Clara Laursen said in an email advising the CHP of the upcoming study."
Posted by Kathy Meeh