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Creation of Mt. Fuji-area maps aims to reduce traffic fatalities involving wild animals

An image of a map showing traffic fatalities involving animals in the area surrounding Mount Fuji, whereby clicking on an animal's silhouette shows a photograph taken in the local area. (Photo courtesy of Tokyo Metropolitan University associate professor Hidenori Watanave)

In an effort to curb the number of wild animals hit and killed by motor vehicles in the region surrounding Mount Fuji, where such creatures abound, the Tokyo Metropolitan University and a local environmental protection group have worked together to produce a digital map showing the places where such traffic fatalities have occurred in the past.

    The map has been put together such that it is possible to automatically identify which areas have had high numbers of such accidents, as well as the types of animals that were involved. As such, motorists are being asked to make efforts to reduce these types of incidents.

    Animals killed by vehicles are referred to as "road kill" -- and it is a problem that has become widespread. No punishment is meted out for causing such accidents, however, and most cases simply go unreported. As a result, the total numbers of animals killed has until now remained largely unknown.

    In response, the Mount Fuji Outdoor Museum -- an environmental protection group that is headed by Hiroaki Funatsu and based in the town of Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture -- spent around one year beginning in October 2014 going around the national and prefectural roads near Mount Fuji in Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures in order to gather more concrete details regarding the 135 traffic fatalities in the area.

    Working together with Tokyo Metropolitan University associate professor Hidenori Watanave 's network media art research team, group members then set about collaboratively creating the map, which is available online at

    The types and numbers of animals that have been involved in the fatal accidents are as follows: Japanese deer (35), Japanese raccoon (21), various types of birds (13), and Japanese martens (11), among others. The maps shows the animals' silhouettes, and clicking on the image reveals the date and time that the animal was discovered, as well as a street view image from Google Maps that was taken using on-scene photography.

    The image mapping through this project has clarified the fact that a large number of the fatalities have taken place along National Route 139 near the Fuji Five Lakes area, which is an area known for having a high rate of traffic. The initiative has also elucidated the fact that there is a seasonal component involved, such as a high rate of Japanese martens being involved in the traffic incidents during the wintertime.

    Despite the fact that there are road signs saying "Watch for animals" in a total of 140 different locations in the area, it also became clear through the mapping initiative that the number of accidents was not decreasing even in nearby places where such signage had been placed.

    "The World Cultural Heritage registration (of Mount Fuji) has resulted in an increasing number of tourists renting motor vehicles," Funatsu pointed out. "We want them to drive with the understanding that they are disrupting the local forest area."

    Information regarding traffic accidents involving wildlife should be reported to the Mount Fuji Outdoor Museum at 090-9369-22096.

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