The “Wild game on the road” project by Estonia, aims to decrease traffic collisions between cars and wild animals.
Hunters have installed reflectors at accident black spots along highways, which reflect the headlights of moving cars as beams of light into the forest. Thereby, keeping wild animals (especially large carnivores) away from the roads and the threat of cars. The project covers 17 road sections comprising 8.5 kilometres of roadways in Estonia. Around 600 reflectors have been installed to date throughout Estonia. The map below shows the location of these reflectors (in red).
Car accidents involving wild animals have been a common problem across Europe, since the birth of the motor vehicle. These accidents put both, wild animals and motorists, in great danger.It is very common for such an accident to result in the death of the animal. Drivers have also been seriously injured – some also losing their lives. Further, such accidents also cause serious damage to vehicles. On average it costs 2,500 euros to restore a vehicle that has been involved in a wildlife accident. But there is a record of damage on the higher end of the scale, amounting to near 30,000 euros.
In Estonia alone, over 1000 wild animals die from road accidents every year. Many of these species in danger are well known animals, such as the: Moose (Alces alces), red deer (Cervus elaphus), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), wild boar (Sus scrofa), bear (Ursus arctos), wolf (Canis lupus), lynx (Felis lynx), and fox (Vulpes vulpes). This project ensures the protection and conservation of many of these invaluable species and their habitats.
This project was developed by Estonian hunters and kindly funded by them and an Estonian insurance company (IF). A study is being developed by the Estonian University of Life Sciences alongside the project to gather research and collect data on the effectiveness of the reflectors in protecting wild animals.
Alongside the reflectors’ initiative, the team is working simultaneously on creating a map application to register data on where road accidents occur, in order to locate popular animal crossings. The team will continue to provide communication and education (for different target audiences, e.g. hunters and the wider public). The project is expected to take place from 2020 to 2023.
For more information have a look at the website from the Estonian Hunters’ Society: http://www.ejs.ee/ulukikahjud