Second Phase of Interstate 280 Deer Capture Project Completed

Media Contacts:
Janice Mackey, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8908
Fraser Shilling, UC Davis Road Ecology Center, (530) 752-7859

DFG, UC Davis, Caltrans and CHP partner to save human lives and wildlife

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and its partners have successfully completed the second phase of the I-280 deer capture project.

“Saving wildlife and human lives is a paramount objective for this multi-agency collaboration,” said State Deer Coordinator Craig Stowers. “I’m very

Wildlife Biologists process a sedated deer for the I-280 deer study

pleased with the way the capture was run on the ground, and couldn’t be more proud of the teams of biologists who were able to do their job with very little disturbance to the deer and surrounding habitat.”

Funded by Caltrans and executed by the UC Davis Road Ecology Center and DFG, the ongoing 18-month study focuses on tracking deer that live and move along a busy 13-mile stretch of freeway between Millbrae to Woodside.  

The information collected during the study will allow researchers to make recommendations that could include installing fences or wildlife underpasses to prevent deer from entering the roadway.

“This benchmark study will allow us to understand what drives deer to use habitat near the interstate and to cross the freeway surface,” said UC Davis Road Ecology Center Director Fraser Shilling. “In the end, we can make sound scientific recommendations that will improve conditions for both wildlife and drivers.”

Using tranquilizer darts, 10 female deer were sedated by biologists during this second phase. Once captured, the deer were fitted with GPS collars that record their location and send the information to researchers via satellite. Automatic release mechanisms will cause the collars to fall off the deer after six months.

“Between January 2001 and December 2010, there were 928 reported automobile collisions with deer in the San Francisco Bay Area,” said Deputy District Director for Environmental Planning and Engineering Melanie Brent. “Working with our colleagues at DFG and UC Davis, we hope to reduce such accidents and make our highways safer for the motoring public.”

According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), deer collisions are a danger to motorists statewide. In 2010, the CHP recorded 1801 wildlife collisions on California roads. The CHP recommends motorists reduce speeds when driving through known deer areas, use high beams at night whenever possible to spot wildlife before it’s too late and never swerve to avoid a collision with a deer or other animal on the roadway.

The final phase of the study will be completed in July 2013.