Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.


High-Tech Roadkill Prevention, Coming Soon to a Highway Near You

DiscoblogBy Nina BaiOctober 9, 2008 9:12 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news


In ecosystems across the country, the automobile has moved to the top of the food chain, meaning that thousands of moose, cougars, and bears are meeting their ends on asphalt.Now, the Colorado Department of Transportation is hoping that high-tech wild-life detectors might cut down on roadkill.

The testing site for the new detectors is a particularly deadly mile of Highway 160, where 70 percent of all reported collisions between 1999 and 2003 were between cars and animals.Part of the problem is that the stretch is smack in the middle of an important migration corridor for deer.

Officials buried cables along either side of the highway to emit an electromagnetic field.When a large animal enters the area and disturbs the field, the system triggers signs that flash “Wildlife Detected” to oncoming traffic.A separate sensor helps the system distinguish between wildlife and cars. The new detectors only sense large game, so small critters like raccoons and spotted salamanders will still need to look both ways.

Other roadkill prevention methods include fencing and laser sensors. But fencing would hinder migration routes and laser sensors can be triggered by falling snow and tumbleweed.

So will it work? We’ll know soon enough: The CDOT is monitoring traffic speed to see if the new system, which will cost about $1 million, actually causes drivers to slow down.

Image: flickr/ donjd2

3 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In