Could Wolves Stop Deer From Crashing Into Cars?

Some of the worst car accidents on American roads involve deer collisions. Thousands of deer-related car crashes happen every year, causing damage, injuries, and even deaths. And though some products claim to enhance car safety concerning deer, nothing has proven effective yet.

However, a recent report breaks down one of the most effective means of preventing these collisions. And it comes from a highly unexpected source. 

How many car collisions with deer happen annually?

The numbers don’t lie. Deer-vehicle collisions are a huge headache, and they happen far more frequently than anyone might expect. In fact, HealthResearchFunding.org reports about 1.5 million car accidents involving deer annually, with an average of 150 human fatalities each year. Furthermore, the cost of these collisions exceeds $1 billion annually, meaning thousands of people face car repairs every year after encountering rogue deer.

Many related car collisions happen in the early morning or late evening when the woodland creatures tend to be the most active. But crashes can happen anytime and in a split second because these animals tend to dash across roads when they’re on the move. So the best way to avoid these accidents is to be as attentive as possible while at the wheel, never taking your eyes off the road, and never texting while driving.

Still, some experts claim at least one accessory can help prevent these collisions. 

Do deer whistles prevent accidents?

Deer whistles are small devices that attach to a vehicle’s grille or hood. They make noise when the car travels between 30 and 35 mph, emitting a whistle that deer can hear. In theory, the high-pitched sound startles the animal, making it pause to consider its surroundings — and potentially stopping it from dashing across the road.

However, a recent class-action lawsuit slams deer whistles as a sham. It alleges consumers have purchased these products only to find them ineffective in preventing collisions. Other critics have called out deer whistles for frightening the animals into running rather than startling them into stunned submission.

So, for now, it seems deer whistles aren’t proven to deter dashing deer. However, another method might work.

A natural predator could be the key to preventing these crashes

Some might call the deer whistle a sham, but nature may have provided a much more effective means of keeping these creatures away from roads. According to The Atlantic, wolves can reduce the number of deer-vehicle collisions. Natural-resource economist Jennifer Raynor claims that “some lives are saved, some injuries are prevented, and a huge amount of damage and time [is] saved by having wolves present.”

Raynor points to her research in Wisconsin, which shows wolves help keep deer away from cars by eating or intimidating them, thereby reducing the number of collisions by a quarter. In addition, Raynor notes that by introducing wolves into landscapes with higher numbers of such car accidents, the predators could reduce the nearby deer population over time.

Certainly, it’s a solution that will require time and additional research. But for people who’ve experienced deer-involved car crashes, it’s an avenue worth exploring. 

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