KOFU -- A car-mounted device that emits a high frequency sound that deer and other animals dislike is playing a part in efforts to reduce roadkill frequently seen near the foot of Mount Fuji in central Japan.
Dubbed Shika (Deer) Sonic, the device is designed to deter animals from running in front of vehicles. It is also being used to ward off creatures along railway tracks and to prevent them from entering fields and causing crop damage.
The device was developed by car parts manufacturer T.M. Works Ltd. with cooperation from the nonprofit Fujisan Outdoor Museum, which has been investigating roadkill around the foot of Mount Fuji for the past five years. Development began in 2016, and the product went commercial in May 2018.
Shika Sonic is attached to the front grill of cars. It emits a high-frequency sound ranging between 20 and 30 kilohertz, which deer and other animals apparently dislike. It is said to deter animals from approaching when it comes within 50 to 70 meters of them. By combining different frequencies it produces 35 random sound patterns, to prevent animals from getting used to the sound and diminishing the effectiveness of the product. The device is only said to be effective at speeds of under 60 kilometers per hour, so developers are calling for people to use it in conjunction with other whistle type sound devices utilizing wind pressure, which are designed for higher speeds.
Roadkill has spiked near the foot of Mount Fuji over the past decade or so. Since May 2014, Hiroaki Funatsu, head of Fujisan Outdoor Museum, has investigated roadkill cases in 11 municipalities in Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures near the mountain. In addition to patrolling roads, he has called for residents to report carcasses. Over five years, he has collected data on 891 carcasses. The data showed that by animal, deer were involved in the greatest number of roadkill accidents, at 207. Hideaki Todoroki, the president of T.M. Works, has utilized this data to make improvements to Shika Sonic.
Besides being fitted to vehicles, Shika Sonic has been used along the Fujikyuko Line, which previously saw many deer get hit by trains. Forty of the devices have been installed at eight locations along the tracks to deter animals from approaching the line.
The device is also effective at warding off wild boars and other smaller animals such as masked palm civets, and some farmers have installed them in fields to prevent animals from causing crop damage. T.M. Works now has its sights set on releasing a solar panel-powered product sometime around next year for use in fields.
"I often hear from friends that they have hit a deer while driving. I hope Shika Sonic can help reduce such accidents," Todoroki says.
The device retails for 19,000 yen, excluding tax. T.M. Works is accepting inquiries about the product by phone on 0555-72-0546 (in Japanese).
(Japanese original by Nami Takata, Kofu Bureau)