Photo/IllutrationShika Sonic, top, can be combined with the whistle to scare off deer, bottom. (Hiroshi Kawai)

  • Photo/Illustraion

FUJI-KAWAGUCHIKO, Yamanashi Prefecture--In hopes of preventing roadkill, a company here has developed a car-mounted device to generate high-frequency sounds to deter animals from running out in front of moving vehicles.

A simple whistle that produces noise audible only to animals by using wind pressure generated by vehicles running at high speeds is already available. T.M. Works' new product, Shika Sonic, can prevent animals from being hit and killed even while driving slowly.

Hideaki Todoroki, 53, president of the auto parts retailer, decided to create the device when he met 14 high school friends five years ago and found five of them had hit deer while driving.

Todoroki said it costs more than 500,000 yen ($4,528) on average to repair a car that heavily strikes deer. He began developing the device in April last year to help people and wild animals “coexist and co-prosper.”

Measuring 5 centimeters by 5 cm, Shika Sonic is designed to be installed around the front bumper. When connected with the vehicle’s battery, it generates a high-frequency noise at 20 to 30 kilohertz, a level that is annoying for animals but cannot be heard by humans.

Shika Sonic randomly changes the frequency of its sounds because animals get used to noises if they continue hearing the same sound and because different animals dislike different kinds of noise.

T.M. Works repeatedly tested the device at the northern foot of Mount Fuji near the company and confirmed it can drive away deer 50 meters ahead of the car within a few seconds.

The device also had effects on raccoon dogs and other creatures.

Animals killed by moving vehicles are a frequent sight reported around Mount Fuji.

According to Fujisan Outdoor Museum, an environmental protection group, 710 roadkill incidents happened over the four-year period through March. The most common victim was deer at 150, followed by raccoon dogs at 90.

“Because some animals die after running into forests, the actual roadkill number is probably two to three times higher than the reported figure,” said Hiroaki Funatsu, 45, head of the group.

Todoroki said, “In areas where animal accidents are frequently reported, I hope motorists will become gentle and drive slowly so as not to disturb animals.”

Shika Sonic is available at auto accessory shops across Japan for 19,000 yen, excluding tax.