A before-after-control-impact study of wildlife fencing along a highway in the Canadian Rocky Mountains
Clevenger, Anthony P.
Ford, Adam T.
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Wildlife exclusion fencing has become a standard component of highway mitigation systems designing to reduce collisions with large mammals. Past work on the effectiveness of exclusion fencing has relied heavily on control-impact (i.e., space-for-time substitutions) and before-after study designs. These designs limit inference and may confound the effectiveness of mitigation with co-occurring process that also change the rate of collisions. We used a replicated before-after-control-impact study design to assess fencing effectiveness along the Trans-Canada Highway in the Rocky Mountains of Canada. We found that collisions declined for common ungulates species (elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer) by up to 96% but not for large carnivores. The weak response of carnivores is likely due to combination of fence intrusions and low sample sizes. When accounting for background changes in collision rates observed at control sites, naïve estimates of fencing effectiveness declined by 6% at one site to 90% and increased by 10% at another to a realized effectiveness of 82%. When factoring in the cost of ungulate collisions to society as a whole, fencing provided a net economic gain within 1 year of construction. Over a 10-year period, fencing would provide a net economic gain of >$500,000 per km in reduced collisions. In contrast, control site may take upwards of 90 years before the background rates of collisions decline to a break even point. Our study highlights the benefits of long-term monitoring of road mitigation projects and provides evidence of fencing effectiveness for reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions involving large mammals.
Clevenger AP, Ford AT editors. Final Report 2022: A Before- After-Control-Impact Study of Wildlife Fencing Along a Highway in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Transportation Pooled Fund Study, TPF-5(358). Nevada Department of Transportation, Carson City, NV.