Mirrors to warn deer of night-time traffic through Flemish forest

Summary

A new safety system that will flash headlights back at deer is part of an effort to re-wild the Buggenhout in East Flanders, and protect drivers

Deer crossing

A series of mirrors is being placed along a main road running through Buggenhout Forest in East Flanders to make sure that deer do not cross at night when vehicles are passing. The mirrors pick up the headlights of any traffic on the road and scatter the light into the trees and fields, frightening any animals nearby.

The mirrors are part of an effort to “re-wild” the woods, restoring them to a more natural state. Deer have slowly been coming back to the area over the past 15 years, but as their numbers increase, so does the risk of them crossing Kasteelstraat, a main road that cuts the forest in two.

“Deer live together in groups in the winter,” explained Reinhart Cromphout, a ranger with the Flemish Agency for Nature and Woodland. “In the spring, these groups break up, and the animals explore on their own, looking for new territory in preparation for the mating season. So there are more deer roaming around.”

This increases the likelihood that they will try to cross the road. Last spring there were several collisions that killed deer and damaged vehicles, so the mirrors should be good for both the animals and drivers.

Blue dazzle

The mirrors will be attached to posts placed every 25 metres along the road, positioned so that the light is scattered away from traffic. Blue mirrors have been chosen to make the system more effective.

This is because deer can only distinguish between green and blue colours. Since green is everywhere in the woods, blue stands out as something unnatural and frightening. Experience elsewhere has shown that there is a 73% reduction in the number of deer accidents in places where these mirrors have been installed.

Photo courtesy Agentschap Natuur & Bos