Feedback on exit devices from fences for large wildlife

Dealing with animal accident risks and traffic safety, the 2018 Roads and Wildlife Manual of the European Conference of Road Directors (ECRD) infers that the installation of appropriate fencing is the most effective measure to prevent collisions with large wildlife species, particularly when associated with wildlife crossings, In addition, with a view to preserve biodiversity and wild species, fences are also put in place along ecological corridors impacted by transportation infrastructures and where they must also be accompanied by secure crossing structures. These approaches can also be extrapolated to the rail sector. Nevertheless, it happens that animals do manage to enter fenced rights-of-way due to the interruption of fences (end of equipped lines, intersection of roads or tolls, etc.), damaged areas (holes, subsidence, open equipment, etc.) or special configurations (promontories for instance). Once they enter the rights-of-way, their return may be difficult. These animals are a potential risk to vehicles on the road, wich is an issue both for traffic safety and nature preservation. Whenever it has not been able to prevent their way in, it is possible to provide them with one-way emergency exits. Based on a scientifically analyzed feedback started in 2020 by Cabinet X-AEQUO, OFB and CEREMA, this exploratory project aims at producing recommendations regarding whether methodology or technical points. The goal is to lead a critical review of the different devices in France or abroad (Europe, North America) on the basis of a vast survey and bibliographic analysis among many actors (scientific and technical networks, Linear Infrastructure managers, hunting technicians or research offices, etc.). Finally, this project will focus on identifying areas for further research.

Particularly, among the 3 species to be studied (red deer, European roe deer, wild boar), a question already seems to emerge on the optimal sizing of deer ramps in terms of height and the possible influence of height as a limiting factor, in particular for the exit of deer. That is why a pre-reflection will be undertaken with the INRAE (CEFS unit specialized in the behavior and ecology of large wild ungulates) on the possibility of setting up tests of the effectiveness of certain equipment such as roe deer escape routes on their experimental installation in Gardouch. This type of protocol requires a combination of technical reflection (experimental design and installation of equipment, behavioral approach (habituation, perception of the device, risks, measurement on behavior) and ethics (regulations in animal experimentation, animal welfare. We will also investigate the possibility of proposing future experiments on other sites depending on the target species (especially wild boar and red deer).

Therefore, beyond cervids, if research axes are also identified concerning wild boar and which could be the subject of tests, we will propose protocol bases for possible future experiments.

This project will mainly target large accident-causing ungulates (wild boar, red deer and roe deer), but measures targeting other taxa may be mentioned. This project will deal with Terrestrian Transportation Linear Infrastructures such as roads, motorways and railways. The achievements will be extrapolated to the fenced perimeters of the aquatic infrastructures (canals).

Finally, the analysis of the collected data (questionnaires, interviews, studies, etc.) may relate to:
- technical aspects (= what can be learned from experience feedback on the effective use of different devices by wildlife?)
- methodologies for locating and choosing equipment,
- monitoring methods (= how to study the functionality or effectiveness of the devices),
- the issues of equipment durability and maintenance contingencies.