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Keywords:

  • Alces alces;
  • moose;
  • moose-vehicle collision;
  • Québec;
  • road safety;
  • roadside salt pool

ABSTRACT  Wildlife-vehicle collisions cause numerous human fatalities and injuries, and generate considerable expenses in property damage each year. Certain characteristics of the road and its surroundings are known to have an impact on collision probability. Roadside salt pools increase the risk of collision by attracting moose (Alces alces) to the side of the road. In the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve of Québec, Canada, roadside salt pools were drained and filled with rocks to deter moose from drinking. We surveyed 12 roadside salt pools during 3 consecutive summers (2003–2005) from mid-May to mid-August. Seven salt pools were managed in autumn 2004, and 5 pools were left untreated. We equipped all 12 sites with electronic apparatus that allowed us to detect moose attendance and study their behavior. We also measured physical, chemical, and environmental characteristics of these pools and other unvisited pools in order to correlate moose attendance with specific habitat criteria. We found that moose mostly attended roadside salt pools from mid-June to mid-July, with a decrease in August. Moose attendance was significantly correlated with visual obstruction toward the road and water availability. Management of the pools caused a decrease in mean length of time moose spent at them. Number of visits decreased significantly at night (by 90%), which was when most visits occurred, but not during the day. The proposed management practice prevented all visiting moose from drinking brackish water. These results suggest that moose should eventually lose interest in treated salt pools, therefore decreasing the risk of moose-vehicle collisions on the road.