Electrified Barriers Installed on Top of Wildlife Guards to Help Keep Large Wild Mammals Out of a Fenced Road Corridor

Abstract

Most wildlife mitigation measures along highways are aimed at improving human safety, reducing direct wildlife mortality, and providing safe crossing opportunities for wildlife. Fences in combination with wildlife crossing structures are the most effective combination of mitigation measures to achieve these objectives. For fences to reliably reduce collisions with large wild mammals by 80% or more, at least 5 kilometers (3 miles) of road length needs to be fenced, including a buffer zone that extends well beyond the known hotspots for wildlife-vehicle collisions. Collisions that still occur within the fenced road sections tend to be concentrated near the fence-ends. In addition, gaps in fences, including at access roads, can result in concentrations of collisions inside fenced road sections. Gates are commonly used at gaps in the fence at low traffic volume access roads, but they are often left open allowing wildlife to access the road corridor. While cattle guards or wildlife guards can be effective for some ungulate species, double wide cattle or wildlife guards consisting of round bars or bridge grate material, situated above a pit, are generally recommended for ungulates. However, such guards are not a substantial barrier for species with paws, including many carnivore species. Electrified mats or electrified guards can be a barrier for both ungulates and species with paws, but to prevent animals from jumping across the mat, they need to be 4.6-6.6 m (15-22 ft)) wide. For this project, a combination of wildlife guards and electrified barriers on top of these wildlife guards was evaluated. Both electrified mats that were tested (Crosstek and BS Fabrications) on top of existing wildlife guards resulted in a near absolute barrier for both ungulates and species with paws (97.9% barrier for the 2 deer species combined, 100% barrier for coyotes and black bears); an improvement to a wildlife guard only without an electrified mat (89.3% for the 2 deer species combined, 54.5% barrier for coyotes and 45.5% barrier for black bears). Based on the images, there is evidence that a shock is delivered to the animals that touch the electrified mats and that most of the animals respond by returning to the habitat side of the barrier. Specifically for bears, if it was not for the electrified barriers, likely at least 3 black bears and 1 grizzly bear would have crossed into the fenced road corridor where they would have been exposed to vehicles.

Description

Conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration.

Keywords

Citation

Huijser, M.P. & S.C. Getty. 2023. Electrified barriers installed on top of wildlife guards to help keep large wild mammals out of a fenced road corridor. Report 4W8408. Western Transportation Institute, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, USA.
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