A TALENTED trio of Killarney students believe official figures of deer-related accidents are hugely underestimated.

The students, from St Brendan’s College, presented their project DeerWatch at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition at the RDS. They have combined official statistics on incidents in which deer collide with cars with their own survey, using a crowdsourcing app, to present what they believe to be a more accurate picture.

Their research found that there were more than 101 incidents in the Killarney area in the past five years, with an average of more than 300 collisions a year in Ireland. Most went undocumented unless there was significant personal damage or injury, said Darragh Fleming, Colm Looney and Ethan O’Neill.

The students identified two areas where deer were most frequently to be found in their area: Gortroe in Fossa and Lough Guitane. Muckross. Motion sensors and cameras were deployed to detect the animals.

The team went on to prove the effectiveness of “cheap deterrents” used in Scotland and the US in the form of CDs hung from trees and human hair (sourced from a local barber and packed into tights). The CD shines when illuminated by car lights while the scent from the hair puts the deer off.

In a third phase of their project, they developed a prototype sign that lights up with different colours depending on how recently deer have been in the area; red indicating to a motorist when they are most likely to face an encounter.
“We believe that all three measures together will reduce collisions,” they added.

They are submitting their work to the Road Safety Authority, the local Gardai, and Kerry County Council.

Above: St Brendan’s students Ethan O’Neill, Darragh Fleming and Colm Looney with their project DeerWatch.

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