A test of wildlife warning reflectors as a way to reduce risk of wildlifetrain collisions

Looking for an effective method to reduce risk of animal-train collisions we tested the system of wildlife warning reflectors, usually used on roads. The research was conducted in central Poland along the E 65 line between Warszawa Wschodnia and Legionowo in the years 2010 – 2011. Digital cameras were used to register animal activity 24h a day in two periods: when the reflectors reflected light from approaching trains and when the reflectors were covered (they were deactivated). We  registered 700 observations of 6 mammal species near railway track – roe deer, wild boar, red fox, brown here, domestic dog and cat. We described three types of animal reaction to an approaching train: (1) escape, (2) moving away from rail track, (3) no reaction. In situations when the reflectors were covered animals reacted similarly like in situations when reflectors reflected light from an approaching train: (1) 64% and 46%, (2) 3% and 7%, (3) 33% and 47%) (χ2=5,04, p>0,05). Because this type of warning devices have to reflect light from approaching train, they can work only at night. That is why we compared reactions of animals to an approaching train at day and night. During the day animals escaped more often than at night, when warning devices were supposed to work  – respectively: 69% and 46% (χ2=26,85, p<0,01). The results indicate that wildlife warning reflectors are not effective method to reduce risk of animal-train collisions.

reaction of animals, railway track, central Poland