Date of this Version
The Journal of Wildlife Management 82(4):756–765; 2018
Vehicular collisions with large ungulates pose serious challenges for managing and conserving large ungulates throughout the world. Despite the global frequency, mitigation efforts are mostly limited to localized hotspots and not effective on broad scales. Our goal was to determine whether dynamic, regional attributes could inform broader focus for mitigation efforts. We applied a spatiotemporal dynamic model to examine the regional influences on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)–vehicle collisions (DVCs) throughout the Midwest United States from traffic, abundance of deer, and composition and configuration of the landscape during 2000–2011. The regions included eco-zones representing landscape dominated by shelter-forage habitats with ubiquitous and abundant distribution of deer (i.e., forest-agriculture matrix), landscape dominated by agriculture with sparse refugia (i.e., agriculture), and landscape dominated by forests with seasonal migration for deer (i.e., northern forest). We found little fluctuation in the factors affecting collisions through time but substantial differences among regions. In the forest-agriculture matrix eco-zone, fragmentation of the landscape was the most important predictor of collisions. In the agriculture eco-zone, traffic and abundance of deer best predicted collisions. In the northern forest eco-zone, the predictors of collisions were variable and likely related to winter severity and deer migration. This research provides new justification for broadening the focus of current mitigation measures to regional extents. In regions dominated by forest and agriculture, new policies that reduce habitat fragmentation should be the primary focus for reducing collisions. Reducing abundance of ungulates will have the most direct effect in regions dominated by agriculture. Finally, a variety of seasonal and local mitigation measures will be most effective in northern forests where large ungulates migrate.