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Israel Journal of Zoology
  Issue:  Volume 51, Number 3 / 2005
  Pages:  199 - 207
  URL:  Linking Options

TEMPORAL AND SPATIAL INFLUENCES ON ROAD MORTALITY IN OTTERS: CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS

AMICHAI GUTER A1, AMIT DOLEV A2, DAVID SALTZ A3, NOGA KRONFELD-SCHOR A4

A1 Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel and the Israel Mammal Center, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, 4 Hashfela Street, Tel Aviv 66183, Israel
A2 Israel Mammal Center, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, 4 Hashfela Street, Tel Aviv 66183, Israel and the Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology, Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer 84990, Israel
A3 Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology, Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer 84990, Israel
A4 Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel

Abstract:

Roadkills are the major cause of mortality in some predator species, including endangered species, and are considered one of the causes for the marked decline of otter populations around the world during the last century. We collected all available records of otter (Lutra lutra) roadkills in Israel, and analyzed them in order to assess the role of roadkills in the decline of the otter population in Israel and to find ways in which otter road mortality might be reduced. We found a significant increase in otter road casualty over the last 3 decades. Based on general estimates of population size, we suggest that at least 5% of the otter population in Israel is killed on the roads each year. A seasonal pattern was found: 64% of otter roadkills occurred in winter and spring. There was a slight male bias ratio in fatalities (1.27:1). A majority of casualty records (57.1%, n = 63) were within 100 m of fresh water. Our findings suggest that roadkill has a significant impact on the otter population in Israel. Suitable bridge design, underpasses at favored crossing points, ledges in culverts and bridges to allow otters to walk through even at high flows, fencing to divert otters to a safe underpass, and reflectors and warning signs for motorists can all be used to reduce roadkills.


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