The Deer Initiative

What we do

Reducing DVCs

We estimate up to 74,000 deer-vehicle collisions (DVCs) every year across the UK. They present a major animal welfare problem in the UK, and lead to up to 700 human personal injury accidents and 10-20 human fatalities every year. Increasing numbers of deer-vehicle collisions (DVCs) are also reported throughout much of Western Europe and North America.

The UK National Deer-Vehicle Collisions Project was set up in 2003 through the Deer Initiative, with lead funding for the study coming from the Highways Agency and the Scottish Executive. The main aims of the project for the first three years were to assess the scale and distribution of the problem, and build a database to help identify hot spots and priority areas for mitigation.

By December 2005 over 30,500 records had been collated by the project, providing a good basis for national mapping. Comparison of data captured by differing sources has enabled estimation that the true toll of deer involved in collisions with vehicles in Britain is unlikely to lie below 42,500 and may well exceed 74,000 per annum. Over 80%of DVCs in the UK each year are recorded in England, with the highest frequencies in the South East where traffic volumes are also greatest.

With high traffic volumes and the spread of deer into peri-urban areas this problem will continue to worsen unless concerted action is taken. Further support from the Highways Agency and the Deer Commission for Scotland enables continued monitoring of trends in DVCs, focusing on the best national data sources including RSPCA and SSPCA, road maintenance contractors, police accident records, and forestry and deer managers. The database now extends to over 50,000 incident reports.

Since 2005 the Deer Initiative project has focused increasingly on preventative measures through media releases to raise public awareness (timed to coincide with annual peaks of DVCs during late autumn and spring), as well as initiating trials to assess the potential of wildlife deterrents and interactive road signage.

Acoustic or optical wildlife deterrents seem ineffective under traffic conditions in England. For high risk sites the best results are likely to be achieved through working in close partnership with road authorities and forest and deer managers to develop local DVC prevention strategies. These should integrate those roadside measures most suited to the local situation with action to raise public awareness and management of the deer population.

To ensure that more action is taken on these research findings, we have set up a working group to develop proposals for raising public awareness of deer-vehicle collisions. This is chaired by Professor David Macdonald, the eminent conservation scientist and Founder-Director of the Oxford University Wildlife Conservation Research Unit.

On 22 September 2009 we launched Deer Aware, a national campaign to inform and influence road users.

The Deer Initiative

Associated documents

Document nameDate added
Deer on our Roads10/11/2011  Download
DeerAware DVC Handbook10/11/2011  Download
Deer and Existing Structures Final Report17/04/2014  Download

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