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Deer collision risk at this A9 north Highland hotspot 'highest outside central belt'

By John Davidson

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Red deer movements have led to more collisions north of Navidale in Sutherland in recent years.
Red deer movements have led to more collisions north of Navidale in Sutherland in recent years.

A stretch of the A9 in the Highlands has been identified as the highest risk for deer collisions outside of the central belt.

Drivers are being warned to take extra care on the road north of the Navidale roundabout at Helmsdale.

The location has seen 10 deer and vehicle collisions recorded in recent years. That puts it in the top 10 sites in Scotland for the highest number of such incidents.

NatureScot is working with Transport Scotland and Bear Scotland to display warning messages on electronic mobile variable message signs at Navidale.

The agency says that although deer and vehicle collisions occur right across the road network, the 500m stretch of road immediately north of the Navidale roundabout has been identified as one of the top 10 sites in Scotland.

It is the only Highland location in the top 10, with the other high-risk locations all found in the central belt and associated with young roe deer dispersal in the spring.

In contrast, the species of most concern at Navidale is red deer as they move from higher moorland to better pasture at lower altitudes. Red deer stags in particular may be tempted to richer feeding grounds to recover following their autumn rutting activity.

In response to the increased potential risk at this time of year, warning signs will be in place in the area for three weeks from today to November 22, to remind drivers to slow down and look out for deer.

Dominic Sargent, NatureScot deer policy officer, said: “The data shows Navidale as a bit of an outlier, as the only one of the top 10 high-risk locations not in the central belt and not near a wooded road junction. Collisions here are also more likely to involve red deer as they move to lower ground seeking food and shelter.

“As part of our ongoing work with partners to reduce deer impacts across Scotland, we’re focusing on areas where the evidence shows those impacts are highest, and Navidale is clearly a priority for public safety.

“We hope the warning message on the electronic road signs will remind drivers always to be ‘deer aware’, moderating their speed and staying alert to help reduce the likelihood of collisions.”

Angus Corby, Transport Scotland landscape and biodiversity manager, said: “Transport Scotland is pleased to continue working in partnership with NatureScot in order to understand and record the impacts that wild deer have across the trunk road network.

“The agency is keen to explore avenues to reduce the potential for deer and vehicle collisions occurring anywhere on the network, to protect the welfare of native deer but primarily for the safety of road users. The use of the mobile variable message sign units is an initiative aimed at mitigating potential risk in an area where there are limited alternative options.”

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