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Smart sonic fences are here to stop deer from becoming roadkill

Acoustic sensors alert wildlife when cars are near – saving hundreds of animals from getting hit on the road. As well as in Tasmania, the devices are also being trialled in the UK, with a number already installed on a stretch of the A513, in Cannock Chase.

On a cool, windy night in a remote corner of Tasmania, Australia, a narrow unlit road cuts through the bush, lined on both sides by chest-high white posts – the only signs of civilisation. Where the road dips, a dark-furred animal, smaller than a fox but bigger than a cat, sniffs the air. A Tasmanian devil, the world’s largest surviving marsupial, is out looking for food. It knows that wallabies and pademelons sometimes cross here to graze in the pasture lands on the other side of the road. What it doesn’t know is that a big, heavy four by four is speeding along the road, obscured by the dip. This tale might have a sad ending, but it doesn’t. As the vehicle’s headlights fall upon the white post behind the devil, a device inside the post emits a bright light and a shrill sound. Startled, the devil looks up, sees the vehicle hurtling towards it, and scurries into the bush and safety.

This is virtual fence – a device helping to curb animal deaths on the road with nothing but light and sound. As well as Tasmania, the devices are also being trialled in the UK, with a number already installed on a stretch of the A513, in Cannock Chase. It’s there that 27 deer lost their lives in collisions with vehicles between 2015 and 2016. With roadside verges not always well maintained, animals often hid in the thicket, only emerging onto the road when it was too late. Wired 23.12.18 Read more