Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cougars could save lives by lowering vehicle collisions with deer


Public Release: 14-Jul-2016
Cougars could save lives by lowering vehicle collisions with deer
University of Washington


ach year deer cause 1.2 million vehicle collisions in the U.S., triggering more than 200 deaths, some 29,000 injuries and $1.66 billion in costs associated with vehicle damage, medical bills and road cleanup.

These staggering figures are in part because deer's natural predators -- large carnivores such as wolves and cougars -- have declined in population, leaving large ungulates like deer to reproduce mostly unchecked.


The researchers were able to compare their modeled results with an actual example in South Dakota, where a viable cougar population lives in the Black Hills. The data clearly showed that after cougars repopulated the region in the 1990s, deer-vehicle collision rates markedly dropped. This real-life test case was strong evidence of a trend that could happen elsewhere, Prugh said.

The authors acknowledge that re-establishing cougars across the U.S. has its costs. Attacks on humans, pets and livestock could become more common, though their estimates show that cougars would actually save five times the number of people they would kill by way of preventing deer-vehicle collisions.

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