In Montana alone, five people were killed and 123 injured in 2005 out of 1,866 recorded wildlife-vehicle collisions, according to the Montana Highway Patrol.
The Oregon Department of Transportation was the lead funding agency for the study, but reducing animal-vehicle collisions has a broad national interest and the departments of transportation from California, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Alaska, as well the Federal Highway Administration all participated.
"Animal detection systems are a relatively new application of these technologies. This study gives us some data on how effective they are," said Barnie Jones of the Oregon Department of Transportation, the lead state in managing the research project.
"Despite these technologies being exposed to extreme cold, snow and rain, the project helped develop a system that detects elk reliably," Jones said. "States such as Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada are all planning on adding animal detection systems to their roadways."
The study also generated ideas on how to make animal-detection systems smaller and more reliable. Another follow-up project will aim to set standards for reliability by comparing different systems at the same location under similar circumstances in Lewistown, Mont.