Technology from a Canadian company claims it could provide a solution to Nanaimo's recurring deer dilemma, but the city says it is likely too costly at $287,000.
The Roadside Wildlife Detection System from Ontario-based tech company Rotalec uses radar to detect deer and moose, and warns drivers with a flashing yellow light when the animals start moving toward the road.
The radar detects any large animal, including pedestrians, through fog or rain but is programmed to ignore regular traffic.
The system is currently gaining national attention and can be installed on any two-kilometre stretch of highway.
Rotalec vice-president Blake Dickson said it's about changing the driver's behaviour, not the animal's.
"What we've found is that the signs (governments) have up, if there aren't any additional beacons flashing, people become complacent," Dickson said.
"For the system that we just deployed, that was in the middle of April of this year, there have been no incidents since."
He said the sensors also track driver's speed, so he is able to confirm traffic slows when the lights are flashing by reviewing system logs.
Coun. Diana Johnstone, who became aware of the RWDS when a resident suggested it to the city, said she doesn't think the system would cut it in Nanaimo given that deer are a problem all along the approximately 10-kilometre stretch of Hammond Bay Road.
"The price tag for that kind of device sounds like it would be something that I don't think council would accept," Johnstone said. "It's certainly not in this year's budget."
According to recent statistics, almost 200 deer carcasses have been picked up in Nanaimo by Coastal Animal Services in 2013, most of which were hit by cars.
Johnstone said she thinks a more effective, less costly solution would be to add more signage.
She said the city has been considering adding speed detection signs along Hammond Bay Road in hopes of encouraging drivers to slow down.
Johnstone added she likes the idea of signs reading: "speeding will cost you dearly," similar to ones that exist in Ontario.
"It's not to say we're not passionate about the problem," she said.
"I think if we could just convince people to drive slower and pay more attention to deer on the roadways (it would get better)."
There are two RWDSs in Ontario, the newest of which was installed in April near Cornwall.
Dickson said he has received a flurry of interest from Canadian governments in recent weeks, including the Government of Alberta.
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