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Trains In Japan Will Bark Like Dogs And Grunt Like Deer To Deter Animals From The Tracks

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Dami Olonisakin

Editorial Assistant

clockJan 19 2018, 17:43 UTC

TrueOne/Shutterstock

Trains around the world are usually just concerned with getting their passengers from A to B. However, certain Japanese trains are being given a new technical feature – the ability to bark like a dog and grunt like a deer. 

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It sounds totally bizarre, but there’s a very good reason behind it. Deer often cross railway tracks and cause collisions with oncoming trains. Therefore, the Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI) in Japan decided to devise a plan to help deter the animals from the tracks.

Deer are naturally scared of dogs and flee from the sound of them barking, so the team chose to use this sound. They also used recordings of deer alarm calls, which warn others to flee from danger. 

The researchers tested their idea using a playback experiment where they played the sound of a deer snorting for 3 seconds, followed by the sound of dogs barking for 20 seconds. This was conducted on trains taking their normal routes in the early evening and late at night when deer are seen by trains the most.

Interestingly, when the sounds were played, deer were spotted by trains 7.5 times every 100 kilometers (62 miles), an impressive 45 percent reduction in sightings. 

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Collisions caused by deer have been a huge issue in Japan, causing not only delays, but the deaths of animals too. In fact, in 2016 there were 613 incidents where trains were either temporarily suspended or delayed due to deer.

It’s been previously reported that one of the reasons why deer find themselves straying near the railway lines is that they lick the tracks to get more iron into their diet.

In the past, various approaches have been trialed to help keep the animals away from the tracks. Deterrents have included ropes, red lights, and even lion feces, but none of them seemed to work. 

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“If our new contraption works, that will obviate the need for installing anti-trespass facilities at many locations,” an official from RTRI told Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun. “We hope to finish it into a system that works in mountainous areas and elsewhere so railroad companies will want to introduce it.”


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