To Protect Deer, Train Will Sound Like Friend and Foe

New system for preventing train-deer collisions in Japan
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2018 2:46 PM CST
To Protect Deer, Train Barks Like a Dog
Stock image   (Getty Images/PapaBear)

The BBC reports officials once tried to keep deer away from trains by spraying railway tracks with lion poop. So a train that barks like a dog isn't the strangest idea ever. A team at Japan's Railway Technical Research Institute has developed a system to keep deer safe and trains on time by turning to the sounds of the animal kingdom, according to Asahi Shimbun. Under the system, trains emit three seconds of the snorting noise deer make to warn each other of danger then 20 seconds of dogs barking as a "deterrent noise." The idea is that the deer, alerted to danger, will run away from the oncoming train.

So far in tests it seems to be working. Officials at RTRI say only 7.5 deer were seen every 100 kilometers during test runs. That's about 45% fewer than normally spotted. RTRI hopes its system will be in use outside of tests by March 2019, the Telegraph reports. Deer, which need iron in their diet, are attracted to rail lines by the iron filings they lick up. It's a big problem in Japan, where there were a record-setting 613 incidents of trains suspended or delayed at least half an hour due to a collision with a deer or other animal in 2016. (Read more deer stories.)

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