Chapter 1: A Literature Review Of Wildlife Vehicle Collisions

1572 words - 7 pages

The overall focus of this report will be on the topic wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVCs). The first section will review the past observations made and studies conducted, while the second section will focus on answering the question “which factors have the strongest influence on WVCs in the Waterloo region?” The theory of why, how, when and where WVCs occur has been extensively studied in the past century with observations starting in the early 20th century. This report will present these findings in chronological order.
During the early 20th century, the automobile was invented, making WVCs a common occurrence in all industrialized nations. Joseph Grinnell, a wildlife biologist from California, was the earliest observer of the phenomenon of WVCs. Grinnel (1920) noted how "roadkill is a relatively new source of fatality; and if one were to estimate the entire mileage of such roads in the state California, the mortality must mount into the hundreds and perhaps thousands every 24 hours." The study of WVCs began because of this statement, with scientists now being able to connect the use of roads with the extinction of certain wildlife species.
Dill (1926) focused his observations on the decline of red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) populations in Iowa. A main observation of Dill’s (1926) was how, based on the content of human food found in the birds stomachs, these woodpeckers seemed to be -in part-attracted to the road by the lunch waste of humans. Dill (1926) observed fewer dead woodpeckers on less heavily travelled roads. Baldwin (1926) contested the theories made by Dill (1926) about why these woodpeckers were found dead on the side of the road noting that he had no evidence that it was because of motorists that so many woodpeckers were found dead. Based on the fact that these red-headed woodpeckers have plenty of food and few natural predators, their populations in the northeast were actually increasing (Baldwin, 1926). Flint (1926) had a broader focus on his WVC study, focusing on all wildlife as opposed to just birds like Dill (1926) and Baldwin (1926) did. Flint (1926) had similar conclusions to Dill (1926). He highlighted that two main factors of WVCs were: 1) the high speed of traffic maintained by all cars, and 2) the season which was focused on (April to August) because they are the most active periods for many wildlife (Flint, 1926). One study, conducted by Jones (1927) and his class, focused on wildlife mortality on roads from Ohio to the Pacific coast. One factor that he noted as being responsible for decreased rates of wildlife mortality was the type of road they travelled on. When the roads were not paved, the speed at which they travelled in their vehicles was lower meaning that wildlife could move themselves out of the way quicker and, therefore, less get hit and killed (Jones, 1927). Despite finding numerous cases of wildlife mortality along their trip, Jones (1927) concluded that “the automobile is not a...

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