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Effects of road crash more ‘shocking’ than previously thought – scientists

The effects of road crashes are “much more devastating” than previously thought, researchers warn, based on an analysis of animal populations around the world.

Collisions with road vehicles were found to be the most common cause of death in nearly one-third (28%) of the 150 animal populations surveyed.

The researchers said their findings, recently published in the journal Biological Reviews, show that some mammal populations may reach a “tipping point” as a result.

“The scale of the road crash is far more devastating than we could have ever imagined, and for some people, it’s devastating,” said Lauren Moore, principal investigator in the Department of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences at Nottingham Trent University. It is clear that it could be a tipping point for wildlife populations.

“Although the live numbers of animals killed may appear to be relatively low, roadkill can directly and indirectly contribute to mortality rates that exceed breeding rates, leaving populations vulnerable. .”

Moore and her colleagues reviewed 83 studies examining mammal deaths across 69 species.

Of the 83 studies, two studies focusing on the UK found that 29% of hedgehog mortality and 25% of hedgehogs were attributed to roads, with 9% of hedgehog populations dying on roads. I understand.

Moore said the polecat research shows that the time, money and effort spent rehabilitating injured or sick creatures is “nullified by roads” and “strengthen or rehabilitate endangered species.” Efforts to introduce it will be limited by roads,” he said.

Globally, the species most likely to be killed on the road include the Tasmanian Devil (native to Australia), Virginia Opossum, San Clemente Island Fox (native to California), African Wild Dog (native to Sub-Saharan Africa), and Fox Squirrel (native to North America).

The team also found that in some populations of animals, up to 80% of known mortality rates are due to vehicle collisions.

The study found that more than half (58%) of all fox squirrel deaths were caused by vehicles, and almost half (46%) of opossum deaths.

For Iberian Lynx Spain – Classified as “endangered” by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – 59% and 80% of the total fatalities in the two populations were due to vehicle crashes.

Meanwhile, 38% of the ‘threatened’ African wild dog and 48% of the ‘nearly endangered’ fox population on San Clemente Island were killed on the road.

Of the 50 Tasmanian devils classified as ‘endangered’ released into the wild from captive breeding programs, researchers found that 38% were killed on the road.

The team also noted that the rate of increase in the “vulnerable” giant anteater population was Brazil Vehicle collisions have halved the population, and if this continues, there is a high possibility that the population will become extinct in about 10 years.

Other species likely to be killed on the road include common genets, western quolls, common wallaroos, gray wolves, gray foxes, American black bears, and pumas.

Study co-author Dr Silviu Petrovan, a senior researcher at the University of Cambridge, said: “We all see roadrun deaths while driving, but as this study shows, this mortality has very different effects on different species. can give you,” he said.

“The impact of roads on wildlife populations is one of the most pressing conservation issues today, and as road networks grow globally, it needs to be addressed urgently,” said Moore. .

“Quantifying the impact of roadkill in this way is important, along with future mitigation work, to influence road planning management and decisions.”

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