VDOT researching animal patterns to help reduce collisions, increase safety

Posted at 3:50 PM, Aug 12, 2014

The Virginia Department of Transportation is hoping animal research -- including bear patterns, will reduce crashes and make Virginia's highways safer for animals and drivers.

Bear sightings are becoming more common, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

VDOT is studying not just bears, but deer and other wildlife to try and figure out their travel patterns, and more importantly, how to keep motorists and wildlife from meeting by accident.

Collisions with deer are the third most common kind of traffic accident in some parts of Virginia -- and they're expensive, causing an average of more than $8,000 in damage for each accident.

But it's bears that are getting an increasing amount of attention recently.

State game officials have been telling us for years that bear sightings are more common. They even produced a YouTube video a few years ago entitled "Living with Black Bears in Virginia."

Now VDOT wants to know how to live with them more safely.

The VDOT study focuses on the area around Afton Mountain, west of Charlottesville. But lessons learned could be applied in our area as well.

The Great Dismal Swamp has one of the highest concentrations of black bears in the state and wildlife experts say in areas where they've build underpasses just for animals, they've used them.