Traffic accidents involving wild animals have almost tripled

Kohatu greenway.
Kohatu greenway. Source: Road Administration (Maanteeamet)

While Estonia's Environmental Information Hotline received roughly 2,000-2,500 calls regarding wild animal accidents prior to 2015, the number grew to 3,500 in just a few years and has exceeded 6,000 in the last two years.

The section of Klooga highway between Muraste and Vääna-Jõesuu is one of the busiest places in Estonia in terms of accidents involving animals. The section sees some 14,000 cars pass through every day.

Wild animal expert Val Rajasaar told the "Osoon" nature program that highway fences are the last and most desperate measure to curb the number of accidents. "If no passage has been left for the animals, these fences do not work. Animals will pass under or over them or even go through them. The only measure that works is to ensure a passageway or crossings," Rajasaar said.

Ecoducts or greenways need to have gentle slopes and be wide enough for animals to start using them. They must also be in the right places, according to the expert. "Fewer [ecoducts] have been built than what has been recommended by experts. They are narrower than they need to be and as such constitute a waste of resources. They work for smaller game, but not necessarily for larger animals," Rajasaar said.

The expert said that wild animal paths have developed over centuries that allows traffic signs to be put up where they are likely to cross. He said that drivers should keep in mind that one animal crossing could soon be followed by others and that animals are more likely to cross roads in the twilight. Another reason why animals could be drawn to highways is carrion, insects and food scraps thrown out of vehicles by humans.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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