Study of behavior of sika deer nearby railroad tracks and effect of alarm call

It has become a serious problem that deer-train collision on tracks in Japan. It is estimated that there are more than 5,000 cases happened in a year. According to the report published by Hokkaido local government, there were 2,493 deer-train collisions happed in Hokkaido in 2014 fy. (from 2014/4/1 to 2015/3/31). Although there are 19 commuter train lines, around an half of the collision was occurred in 3 lines. In the most abundant line, there were 530 collisions occurred and it was about 20 % of the total collision. In the line, which is 135.4km long and 21 trains run daily, most of the collision was occurred from evening to early morning in winter. There are 3 hot spots on the line and the hot spot no. 1 is in mountainous region and no. 2 & no. 3 are in flat land where forests are flourished near the track.

There are few reports which describe about train-deer collision and less information available to consider about mitigation measure. We observed and took a video of deer around the track through the front window of trains to see how deer react to approaching trains. Deer were recorded with high sensitive CCD cameras settled on the front window of train and it was 158 times which deer were appeared around the track during 48 hours of the observation period. Although 55% of deer was standing at place where train operation would not be interfered by them, rest of them was on the track or closing it. It was 8 times that deer-train collisions were observed. Analysis of video showed that mainly three types of deer behavior (preceding on the track, standing, and crossing) resulted in the collision.

We also investigated deer response to an alarm call and a train horn. It was revealed that, whatever the deer are domestic or wild, they were on alert when they heard those sounds. Blowing the sound makes deer being on the alert, therefore, that may be a useful method to prevent deer-train collision.

Key words : railway, deer, collision, alarm call

railway, deer, collision, alarm call