Register      Login
Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

Do wildlife warning reflectors elicit aversion in captive macropods?

Daniel Ramp A B and David B. Croft A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email:

Wildlife Research 33(7) 583-590
Submitted: 14 December 2005  Accepted: 13 September 2006   Published: 15 November 2006


A goal to reduce the frequency of animal–vehicle collisions is motivating extensive research on this topic world-wide. Over the last 30 years, one popular mechanism to warn wildlife of approaching vehicles has been the wildlife warning reflector, manufactured and distributed under the brands Swareflex (Austria) and Strieter-Lite (USA). These reflectors were designed to scare deer and other ungulates from roadways at night by reflecting light from the headlights of approaching vehicles into the eyes of animals on the road verge. Robust documentation of their effectiveness has been lacking, yet there has been a push in Australia to examine their efficacy with regard to medium to large macropodids. Field trials of the reflectors are problematic and difficult to design rigorously, so we chose to examine the behavioural response of two captive macropodid species (Macropus rufus and M. rufogriseus) to the reflectors on a simulated road in order to derive some indication as to their efficacy. The behavioural response to the reflectors was negligible for both species and not consistent with an aversive effect to deter road use or crossing. We conclude that they would be of little value in our efforts to reduce the frequency of collisions of kangaroos or wallabies with vehicles in Australia.


This research was conducted with Animal Ethics approval (03/57) and was conducted as part of the ‘Saving wildlife: saving people on our roads’ project sponsored by the Australian Research Council (LP0346925, APDI to DR), the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, the NSW Wildlife Rescue and Information Service, the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority and Roe Koh & Associates Pty Ltd. Special thanks go to Jeff Vaughan and Jan Nedved for assistance with the trials. We are grateful to Strieter Corporation and Swareflex for providing the reflectors used in this trial. Matt Hall, Diane Dominique and Aline Finger assisted with data collection and video analysis. Our thanks go to Leonard Sielecki for providing research advice and to Gino D’Angelo and an anonymous reviewer for comments on the manuscript.


Abu-Zidan, F. M. , Parmar, K. A. , and Rao, S. (2002). Kangaroo-related motor vehicle collisions. Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection and Critical Care 53, 360–363.
Crossref | GoogleScholarGoogle Scholar | Bennett A. F. (1991). Roads, roadsides and wildlife conservation: a review. In ‘Nature Conservation 2: The Role of Corridors’. (Eds D. A. Saunders and R. J. Hobbs.) pp. 99–117. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Conn, J. M. , Annest, J. L. , and Dellinger, A. (2004). Nonfatal motor-vehicle animal crash-related injuries – United States, 2001–2002. Journal of Safety Research 35, 571–574.
Crossref | GoogleScholarGoogle Scholar | PubMed | Dawson T. J. (1989). Diets of macropodid marsupials: general patterns and environmental influences. In ‘Kangaroos, Wallabies and Rat-Kangaroos’. (Eds G. Grigg, P. Jarman and I. Hume.) pp. 129–142. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Dawson T. J. (1995). ‘Kangaroos – Biology of the Largest Marsupials.’ (University of New South Wales Press: Sydney.)

Deeb, S. S. , Wakefield, M. J. , Tada, T. , Marotte, L. , Yokoyama, S. , and Graves, J. A. M. (2003). The cone visual pigments of an Australian marsupial, the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii): sequence, spectral tuning, and evolution. Molecular Biology and Evolution 20, 1642–1649.
Crossref | GoogleScholarGoogle Scholar | PubMed | Forman R. T. T., Heanue K., Jones J., and Swanson F. (Eds) (2003). ‘Road Ecology: Science and Solutions.’ (Island Press: Washington, DC.)

Gerlach, G. , and Musolf, K. (2000). Fragmentation of landscape as a cause for genetic subdivision in bank voles. Conservation Biology 14, 1066–1074.
Crossref | GoogleScholarGoogle Scholar | Gladfelter L. (1984). Effect of wildlife highway reflectors on deer–vehicle accidents. Iowa Highway Research Board Project HR-210. Iowa Department of Transportation, Ames, IA.

Goosem, M. (2002). Effects of tropical rainforest roads on small mammals: fragmentation, edge effects and traffic disturbance. Wildlife Research 29, 277–289.
Crossref | GoogleScholarGoogle Scholar | Grenier R. H. (2002). A study of the effectiveness of Strieter-Lite® wild animal highway warning reflector systems. Commissioned report for Strieter Corporation.

Hemmi, J. M. , Maddess, T. , and Mark, R. F. (2000). Spectral sensitivity of photoreceptors in an Australian marsupial, the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii). Vision Research 40, 591–599.
Crossref | GoogleScholarGoogle Scholar | PubMed | Ingebrigtsen D. K., and Ludwig J. R. (1986). Effectiveness of Swareflex wildlife warning reflectors in reducing deer–vehicle collisions in Minnesota. Minnesota Wildlife Report 3, Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota.

Jacobs, G. H. , Deegan, J. F. , Neitz, J. , Murphy, B. P. , Miller, K. V. , and Marchinton, R. L. (1994). Electrophysiological measurements of spectral mechanisms in the retinas of two cervids: white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and fallow deer (Dama dama). Journal of Comparative Physiology. A, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology 174, 551–557.
PubMed | Jarman P. J., and Coulson G. M. (1989). Dynamics and adaptiveness of grouping in macropods. In ‘Kangaroos, Wallabies and Rat-kangaroos’. (Eds G. Grigg, P. Jarman and I. Hume.) pp. 527–547. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Johnson P. M., Nolan B., and Moore B. (1993). The use of wildlife reflectors as a means of reducing kangaroo road deaths – the Proserpine rock-wallaby experience. Unpublished internal report. Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage, Brisbane.

Khattak A. J. (2003). Human fatalities in animal-related highway crashes. In ‘Statistical Methods and Modeling and Safety. Data, Analysis, and Evaluation’. pp. 158–166. (Transportation Research Board, National Academy of Sciences: Washington, DC.)

Knapp K. K. (2004). Deer–vehicle crash countermeasure toolbox: a decision and choice resource: final report. Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Wisconsin.

Kramer-Schadt, S. , Revilla, E. , Wiegand, T. , and Breitenmoser, U. (2004). Fragmented landscapes, road mortality and patch connectivity: modelling influences on the dispersal of Eurasian lynx. Journal of Applied Ecology 41, 711–723.
Crossref | GoogleScholarGoogle Scholar | Lintermans M. (1997). A review of the use of Swareflex wildlife reflectors to reduce the incidence of road-kills in native fauna. In ‘Living with Eastern Grey Kangaroos in the A.C.T.’ Third Report, Appendix D. (ACT Kangaroo Advisory Committee: Canberra.)

Lopez R. R. (2004). Florida key deer (Odocoileus virginiaus clavium): effects of urban development and road mortality. In ‘Species Conservation and Management: Case Studies’. (Eds H. R. Akçakaya, M. A. Burgman, O. Kindvall, C. C. Wood, P. Sjögren-Gulve, J. S. Hatfield and M. A. McCarthy.) pp. 450–458. (Oxford University Press: New York.)

O’Rourke S. (1990). Report on effectiveness of ‘Swareflex wildlife warning reflectors’ after 9 month trial on State Highway 18, north of Coonamble, NSW Australia. Unpublished Report.

Quinn G. P., and Keough M. J. (2002). ‘Experimental Design and Data Analysis for Biologists.’ (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK.)

Ramp, D. , and Ben-Ami, D. (In press). The effect of road-based fatalities on the viability of a peri-urban swamp wallaby population. Journal of Wildlife Management ,
Sherwood B., Cutler D., and Burton J. (Eds) (2002). ‘Wildlife and Roads: the Ecological Impact.’ (Imperial College Press: London.)

Sielecki L. E. (2004). WARS 1983–2002: wildlife accident reporting and mitigation in British Columbia: special annual report. British Columbia Ministry of Transportation, British Columbia, Canada.

Sivic A., and Sielecki L. (2001). Wildlife warning reflectors: spectrometric evaluation. Ministry of Transport and Highways, British Columbia, Canada.

SPSS Inc (2004). ‘SPSS for Windows, Release 13.0.’ (SPSS Inc.: Chicago.)

Strieter Corporation (2001). ‘Strieter-Lite: Wild Animal Highway Warning Reflector System. Installation Instructions.’ (Strieter Corporation: Rock Island, IL.)

Ujvari, M. , Baagoe, H. J. , and Madsen, A. B. (1998). Effectiveness of wildlife warning reflectors in reducing deer–vehicle collisions: a behavioral study. Journal of Wildlife Management 62, 1094–1099.

Ujvari, M. , Baagoe, H. J. , and Madsen, A. B. (2004). Effectiveness of acoustic road markings in reducing deer–vehicle collisions: a behavioural study. Wildlife Biology 10, 155–159.

Waring, G. H. , Griffs, J. L. , and Vaughn, M. E. (1991). White-tailed deer roadside behaviour, wildlife warning reflectors, and highway mortality. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 29, 215–223.
Crossref | GoogleScholarGoogle Scholar |

Williams, A. F. , and Wells, J. K. (2005). Characteristics of vehicle–animal crashes in which vehicle occupants are killed. Traffic Injury Prevention 6, 56–59.
PubMed |