Do wolves scare deer away from roads?

A deer crosses a road in Greendale, Wisconsin. Credit: Ken Mattison

Deer collisions with vehicles dropped an average of 24% in Wisconsin counties where wolf populations have returned. Researchers believe the gray wolves (Canis lupus) created a “landscape of fear” that kept the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) away from roads. Predation likely only accounted for a 6% reduction, they found, suggesting that the effect of wolves was greater than hunters could replicate by reducing deer numbers. The drop equated to an estimated $10.9 million in savings statewide, researchers found, compared to $3 million spent over the last 35 years to compensate for wolf damages.

Read more from Science News here, and read the study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.