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Deer driven to autobahn's next exit in 'weapon-free eviction'

There's no speed limit in effect for deer being driven away from an autobahn in northern Germany. The road has been closed to traffic in an effort to get the animals to safety and to protect drivers.

After months endangering traffic as they grazed at the roadside, the deer were to be driven away in a weapon-free battue on Wednesday, close to the northern German city of Rostock. About 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) of the A20 autobahn were closed between junctions Dummerstorf and Sanit Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time (0700-1500 UTC).

A team of 12 "hunters" and 25 road maintenance employees were deployed by the Ministry of Transport in the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to drive out the deer. The original plan to cull the animals was canceled following resistance from the state's enviornment ministry.

A spokesman for the regional hunting federation, Ulf Peter Schwarz, warned against a delay in the deer's eviction. "If there's an accident, there'll be a great fuss," Schwarz said.

No guarantee of success

A search carried out by the environment ministry on Monday night, using a thermal imaging camera, discovered four deer along a 3-kilometer section of the highway.

"As soon as the location of the deer is spotted again, the fences on the relevant section of motorway - left and right, over a distance of about 40 meters - will be opened, and escape routes in the direction of the road will be shut off," State Environment Minister Till Backhaus explained.

Deer at the side of the highway

Following previous attempts to evict the deer, the animals simply relocated further down the highway

The plan is for the deer to then escape into the open field, although there is no guarantee they won't return to the roadside.

Deer 'faithful to habitat'

Previous attempts to dispel the deer from areas inside a special protective fence designed to keep wildlife off the autobahn, proved less than successful. After reportedly walking along the fence until the next junction, the deer soon resettled on the grassy banks of the autobahn.

"The animals are very faithful to their habitat," a spokesperson for the transport ministry said.

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