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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

COVID-19 related travel restrictions prevented numerous wildlife deaths on roads: A comparative analysis of results from 11 countries

Bíl, Michal; Andrášik, Richard; Cícha, Vojtěch; Arnon, Amir; Kruuse, Maris; Langbein, Jochen; Náhlik, András; Niemi, Milla; Pokorny, Boštjan; Colino-Rabanal, Victor J.; Rolandsen, Christer M.; Seiler, Andreas

Abstract

Millions of wild animals are killed annually on roads worldwide. During spring 2020, the volume of road traffic was reduced globally as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. We gathered data on wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVC) from Czechia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Israel, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and for Scotland and England within the United Kingdom. In all studied countries WVC statistics tend to be dominated by large mammals (various deer species and wild boar), while information on smaller mammals as well as birds are less well recorded. The expected number of WVC for 2020 was predicted on the basis of 2015–2019 WVC time series representing expected WVC numbers under normal traffic conditions. Then, the forecasted and reported WVC data were compared. The results indicate varying levels of WVC decrease between countries during the COVID-19 related traffic flow reduction (CRTR). While no significant change was determined in Sweden, where the state-wide response to COVID-19 was the least intensive, a decrease as marked as 37.4% was identified in Estonia. The greatest WVC decrease, more than 40%, was determined during the first weeks of CRTR for Estonia, Spain, Israel, and Czechia. Measures taken during spring 2020 allowed the survival of large numbers of wild animals which would have been killed under normal traffic conditions. The significant effects of even just a few weeks of reduced traffic, help to highlight the negative impacts of roads on wildlife mortality and the need to boost global efforts of wildlife conservation, including systematic gathering of roadkill data.

Keywords

Wildlife-vehicle collisions; Wildlife crash reporting systems; Traffic flow; Ungulates; Mesocarnivores; COVID-19 lockdown

Published in

Biological Conservation
2021, volume: 256, article number: 109076

Authors' information

Bíl, Michal
Transport Research Centre (CDV)
Andrášik, Richard
Transport Research Centre (CDV)
Cícha, Vojtěch
Transport Research Centre (CDV)
Arnon, Amir
University of Haifa
Kruuse, Maris
University of Tartu
Langbein, Jochen
Langbein Wildlife Associates
Náhlik, András
University of Sopron
Niemi, Milla
Metsähallitus Wildlife Service
Pokorny, Boštjan
Environmental Protection College
Colino-Rabanal, Victor J.
University of Salamanca
Rolandsen, Christer M.
Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

UKÄ Subject classification

Fish and Wildlife Management
Ecology

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2021.109076

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/111381