Spending big bucks to track dead bucks

If you’ve driven Interstate 280 through the Peninsula Hills, you’ve seen them: Unlucky dead deer that end up as roadkill. The serene, relatively unspoiled route means drivers in cars aren’t the only ones who use the freeway to get around.

The relatively high numbers of deer deaths along Interstate 280 provide a fertile laboratory for researchers from the California Department of Transportation, the state Department of Fish and Game and UC Davis.

The team is trying to figure out why some deer are more fortunate than others when crossing the road, and how underpasses and other designs — like fences — could help protect wildlife.

It seems that elder deer are better at making it across alive, as most deer who become roadkill are younger.

State Fish and Game deer coordinator Craig Stowers told the Chron that older deer are savvy survivors:

The older ones that we’re catching, they’ve been living by the freeway for a long, long time. They’re smart.”

The large amount of open space that surrounds I-280 makes developing cost-effective solutions difficult and potentially expensive. About $300,000 is being spent on the study.