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Wildlife-vehicle collisions in Spain

Abstract

Wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVC) are important in wildlife management due to their increasing socioeconomic impacts and pervasive effect on some endangered species. In this study, we depict the involved species and evaluate the geographic distribution and economic cost of this human-animal interaction in Spain. We used unpublished information on 74,600 WVC reported by police statements from 2006 to 2012. These collisions accounted for 8.9 % of all reported road traffic accidents in the country. They were unevenly distributed, with WVC accounting for 30–50 % of all road traffic accidents in some mountainous provinces in the north. Results show that wild boar (Sus scrofa) and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), two abundant free-ranging ungulates (O. Artiodactyla) whose populations have expanded throughout Spain during the last few decades, were involved in 79 % of WVC. These species were responsible for most economic losses and, in the case of the wild boar, for most human injuries. The number of vehicle collisions involving large carnivores (O. Carnivora) was small, with the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) present in most cases (70 %). They included some endangered species (brown bear, Ursus arctos, and Iberian lynx Lynx pardinus). The results provide a reliable picture of WVC in Spain and provide the first assessment of the economic cost of this wildlife-human interaction (105 million € yearly).

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Acknowledgments

Data reported in this paper were kindly provided by Endika Urtaran (Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism, Spanish Government), Justiniano Redondo (Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico de Álava, Ministry of Interior, Spanish Government), Carlos Hernáez (Ministry of Development, Spanish Government), Garbiñe Sáez (Director of Traffic, Department of Safety, Basque Government), Victorino García (Road Statistical Department, Basque Government), and Jonatan Calafi (Department of Land and Sustainability, Catalonian Government). We also thank the Guardia Civil, Ertzaintza, and Mossos d’Esquadra officers involved in the collection of data reported in this paper. Sarah Young kindly improved the English of an early draft. AS thanks Charo Zárate for continuous support throughout this investigation. We are indebted to Carme Rosell, who substantially improved an earlier version of this paper.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Antonio Sáenz-de-Santa-María.

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Communicated by C. Gortázar

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Sáenz-de-Santa-María, A., Tellería, J.L. Wildlife-vehicle collisions in Spain. Eur J Wildl Res 61, 399–406 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-015-0907-7

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Keywords

  • Road ecology
  • Roadkill
  • Socioeconomic cost
  • Ungulates (Artiodactyla)