The comparison of roads and railways: temporal patterns of ungulate-vehicle collisions in Poland

Jasinska K.D., Department of Forest Zoology and Game Management, Warsaw University of Life Sciences
Krauze-Gryz D., Werka J., Department of Forest Zoology and Game Management
Warsaw University of Life Sciences WULS-SGGW

Only a few years ago railway ecology started to be treated as a separate part of road ecology. One of the main topics in road and railway ecology is ungulate-vehicle collisions on roads and railways, but there is a lack of empirical comparison between them. The aim of our research was to compare data on vehicle collisions on roads and railways in Poland with 4 species of ungulates, namely roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), red deer (Cervus elaphus), moose (Alces alces) and wild boar (Sus scrofa). Data were obtained from Polish Railway Company (PKP PLK S.A.) from 2012-2015, and from General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways (GDDKiA) from 2014-2017. For roads and railways most collisions involved roe deer (roads: 12714, railways: 1912), then wild boar (roads: 3841, railways: 1046), red deer (roads: 625, railways: 514) and moose (roads: 436, railways: 171).
The results showed that most ungulate-vehicle collisions on roads happened in Spring (moose: 32%, red deer: 35%, roe deer: 41%), only wild boar-vehicle collisions occurred mostly in Autumn (40%). The lowest number of ungulate-vehicle collisions on roads were recorded in Winter (moose: 16%, red deer: 13%, roe deer: 16%) and in Summer in the case of wild boar (19%). The results for collisions recorded on railway were almost the opposite of that. For all ungulate species the highest number of collisions with trains were recorded in Autumn (moose: 41%, red deer: 36%, roe deer: 33%, wild boar: 42%), for red deer and roe deer another picks were observed in Winter (36% and 33%, respectively). The lowest number of ungulate-train collisions were noticed in Summer (red deer: 11%, roe deer: 12%, wild boar: 11%), only moose-train collisions happened rarely in Spring (13%).
Our research showed that there are differences in temporal patterns of ungulate-vehicle collisions on roads and railways. Only for wild boar the temporal pattern of mortality on roads and railways were similar, what suggest that the animals behavior was the most important factor affecting the occurrence of collisions. For moose, red deer and roe deer temporal patterns of mortality on roads and railways stand in opposite to each other. It may suggest that besides animals behavior the collisions occurrence is affected by other factors, connected with infrastructure or environment. Summarizing, railway ecology differ than road ecology so more research on railway ecology is needed.

Abstract Keywords
Wildlife-vehicle collision
railroads