All around the world, unsuspecting wildlife are hit by fast-moving vehicles. In Japan, especially, deer are often hit and killed by trains. Despite being vigilant creatures, they aren’t cautious enough to avoid the locomotives. To solve this conundrum, researchers at the Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI) developed a combination of sounds proven to scare the animals away. If the method proves effective, static barking sites where deer are commonly spotted may be installed along the routes.
According to the BBC, deer are attracted to the railway lines because they require iron. Though adequate levels of iron can be obtained from plants, the deer are drawn to the tracks because iron fillings pile up every time the wheels collide with the tracks. Previous tactics to scare deer away include spraying lion feces on the tracks. Once the rain comes, however, this work is undone. That’s where the snorting and barking noises come in.
The RTRI researchers conducted a series of late-night tests to determine if the combination of sounds would ward off the deer. Reportedly, a three-second blast of the sound of a deer snorting attracts the animals’ attention. Then, 20 seconds of dog barking urges them to take flight.
In the researchers’ own words, the noises are not blared but played along the tracks. If the series of tests prove successful, static barking sites may be constructed along the routes. Hundreds — if not thousands — of deer lives may be saved as a result of the researchers’ ingenuity.
Last December, another plan was shared by a railway employee in Japan. He suggested deer crossings policed by ultrasonic waves. The animals would be allowed to access the tracks at times when trains aren’t running. And when the trains were in transit, the ultrasonic waves would award them away.
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