Photo Credit: Dov Greenblat, SPNI
An ibex waits to cross a busy Israeli road.

In an effort to reduce the staggering number of wild animals that are run over on Israel’s roads every year, The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) joined forces with Waze towards the end of 2016 to encourage drivers to report roadkill incidents via the popular community-based traffic and navigation app.

Over the past half year or so, SPNI has compiled data from more than 12,000 user-generated reports to develop a map detailing which Israeli roads are the most dangerous to Israel’s wildlife.

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After filtering out urban roads and streets that pass through built-up areas, SPNI determined that Route 2, the coastal highway from Tel Aviv to Haifa, and Route 6, the trans-Israel highway, have the highest number of road kill incidents with more than 700 reported sightings each.

Route 1, the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv artery, and Route 443, the alternate highway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, follow closely behind with 600 and 500 roadkill incidents respectively.

Other highways with road kill reports in the hundreds include Routes 70, 4, 431, 85, 65, 3, 77, 38 and 31.

“We are currently studying the data from several areas where unusually high levels of road kill have been observed, and we are examining roads that cross authorized ecological corridors, such as Route number 70/75, east of the Carmel Mountain,” said Shmulik Yedvab, Director of SPNI’s Mammals Center.

“The information streaming in from Waze users is an invaluable resource throughout this process and it illustrates the severity of the problem of wildlife run-overs.”

Over the last several years, the increasing awareness regarding the difficulty and risks roads pose to wild animals led planners to build special passages for animals when constructing new roads or expanding and upgrading old roads, but there are still no solutions on many of the roads now determined to be Israel’s most dangerous for wildlife.

It is for this reason that SPNI’s campaign with Waze continues to be so crucial for wildlife conservation.

“We call on the public to increase its cooperation with this project and provide SPNI with the additional data required to assist us in formulating the optimal action plan towards reducing road kill and saving Israel’s wildlife,” added Yedvab.

The public can ensure the continued success of this important campaign by being vigilant about reporting road kill and encouraging their friends to do the same.

After clicking the circular orange report icon within the Waze app, users should select the “yellow triangular Hazard symbol,” followed by “On road” and “Roadkill.”

The accumulated data collected by SPNI thus far was presented for the first time at a session of the Knesset Science Committee on June 20, headed by MK Uri Maklev.

Initiated by SPNI, the session focused on the subject of using technological tools and methods to assist nature preservation activities and safeguard the environment and Israeli nature.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.