The expansion of the road network, along with the increase in populations of large mammals such as wild boar, has led to a rise in the number of road accidents. This human-wildlife conflict has considerable economic and social costs. In an issue dedicated to wildlife conflicts, the Italian journal Gazzetta Ambiente has published a paper by Carme Rosell from the MINUARTIA team. The paper reviews information on: accidents caused by wildlife on European roads; the most problematic species; and potential solutions depending on the type of road (see the full article here).
The article states that wild boar is responsible for the greatest number of accidents in southern European countries. In addition, it highlights the importance of accurate evaluations of the most conflictive stretches of roads, as the basis for appropriate preventative or corrective measures. The compilation and analysis of accident data on operating roads is essential. In addition, studies on new roads should analyse the characteristics and distribution of habitats and consider the behaviour of various species. For example, accidents caused by roe deer or other deer tend to occur mainly on forested stretches of roads and ecotones between forests and open spaces. In contrast, stretches of road with a high number of wild boar accidents tend to be beside cropland (cornfields) or wetland areas that are very attractive to the species as they provide food and shelter.
The prevention of accidents on highways is based on the construction of wildlife passages combined with appropriate perimeter fences. These measures have been shown to be highly effective when the right size and location is chosen, according to the prescriptions in the existing handbooks and technical guides. However, in many cases, perimeter fences cannot be erected along secondary roads. Therefore, one of the main solutions described in the paper is the management of the road boundaries.
The text indicates that appropriate planning and a suitable road design are essential to reduce accidents, although it is also possible to implement habitat defragmentation measures to reduce the number of accidents caused by wildlife on operating roads.