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Why didn't the deer cross the road?

Just like chickens, deer cross roads to get to the other side. But the cost is deer life. At night spending cars hit and kill the animals. Now foresters are using natural animal instincts to prevent dangerous crossings.

In England, the British Forestry Commission has installed thousands of glowing red "wolf eyes" along woodland roads. The eyes are actually reflectors, plastic bars like the red reflectors on your bike. The 10 cm-long bars are fixed on top of posts, only these signs are angled toward the woods rather than the road.

When cars speed by, light rays from car headlights reflect (bounce) off the reflectors' shiny surface and flash into the woods. Deer are instantly spooked by the "wolf eyes"--even though wolves haven't hunted deer in Britain or even lived there for 300 years!

Scientists think the glowing light mimics the "eye shine" of nightly predators. (You've probably seen eye shine on cats. Mirror-like cells in their eyes reflect some light that hits them.)

The deer must not have "forgotten" that wolves can sprint up to 72 km per hour (45 mph) in hot pursuit, or can sniff deer out from 2.4 km (1.5 mi) away. In some areas where "wolf eyes" keep watch, 90 percent fewer deer have been killed at night.

FAST FACT

A wolf's sense of smell is 100 times more sensitive than a human's.

FAST FACT

A wolf's hearing is so sensitive it can hear a stopwatch ticking from 30 feet away.

FAST FACT

A wolf's canine teeth are 5 cm (2 in.) long.
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Title Annotation:light from approaching cars do not alert deer and they are often killed, but the British Forest Commission found that by placing reflectors that looked like wolves' eyes along roadways, deer were alerted to the cars
Author:Allen, Laura
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 17, 1997
Words:261
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