| CHARACTERIZATION OF ROAD ACCIDENTS IN ISRAEL INVOLVING LARGE MAMMALS |
MOSHE INBAR A1, URI SHANAS A1, IDO IZHAKI A1
A1 Department of Biology, Faculty of Science and Science Education, University of, Haifa--Oranim, Qiryat Tiv'on 36006, Israel
This report is the first attempt to evaluate the magnitude of car accidents involving terrestrial mammals in Israel. With the cooperation of the Israeli insurance companies, we identified 351 accidents that involved mammals from 1995 through 1999. Since only accidents that resulted in human injuries were retrievable, this data set underestimates the full scope of the phenomenon. The annual number of accidents increased twofold during the survey period, indicating that the problem is constantly on the rise. Most accidents took place in northern Israel during the evening and nighttime hours, between 18:00-01:00. Cattle (Bos taurus) and other domestic ungulates, such as horses (Equus caballus), camels (Camelus dromedarius), and donkeys (Equus sp.), constitute the most serious threat to drivers, accounting for approximately 80% of the accidents. Wildlife, primarily wild boar (Sus scrofa), accounted for less than 8% of the accidents. During the study period, 566 injuries to humans and five fatalities were recorded. The total annual damage from these accidents is approximately NIS 3,002,274. (NIS 4 = ~$1 at the time). This is only a fraction of the overall damage because data on accidents with mammals that only involved property damage were not available. The fact that wildlife plays a minor role in car accidents in Israel is probably a result of the extinction and/or low densities of large wild mammals, especially ungulates (excluding gazelles, Gazella spp., and ibex, Capra ibex). Our data suggest that proper cattle handling and fencing could significantly reduce human casualties and economic loss. However, it is recommended that fencing be constructed to accommodate sufficient wildlife passages.
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