Motor vehicle collisions with wildlife are increasing and, all over the province, more of these are with moose.
As drivers we are accustomed to seeing a flash of reflected light, a lighter silhouette or other signs of deer beside the road. However moose, being darker and taller, do not show up so easily. Moose are also quite a bit heavier and can cause a lot more damage.
Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) and the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation (SWF) have a public awareness campaign, Moose on the Loose, to remind motorists about the increased risk from moose. These massive beasts can be found all over the province now, not just in the northern areas, and it is not likely that they will be going away. SGI statistics reported that from November 2012 to April 2013, more than 220 collisions with moose were reported, and that is more than was reported for the whole of 2008.
Why are moose so hard to see? First of all, their dark colour blends into the background at night and doesn’t show up as well in headlights. While their eyes do reflect some light, the same as those of deer, because the moose is taller, smaller vehicles like cars or even half-ton trucks will not cause a reflection. In addition, because they move mostly at dawn and dusk, visibility is limited.
Wildlife movement increases in the summer months, but in the fall during breeding season the animals are even more active. Areas that may have been wildlife-free during the summer will not necessarily stay that way in fall.
Wadena and area have had several motor vehicle incidents lately involving moose. Fortunately there has been no loss of human life, but we all know how quickly the opposite can be true. Please take all possible precautions and be safe out there.
By Charlene Wirtz
How to avoid moose collisions:
– Where there is one moose or deer crossing the road, there will probably be more. Slow down!
– Be especially vigilant at dusk or dawn, particularly in spring and fall. Slow down!
– Slow down when passing through areas where moose and deer may be hidden by brush or trees.
– Deer and moose may be attracted to roadside ditches where grass provides a food supply or road salt creates mineral-rich forage
– Remember “hot spots” on roads you frequently travel – anywhere you have seen moose or deer or even habitat that might contain deer or moose.
(from the Moose on the Loose poster published by the SWF and SGI)
– Slow down when driving at night. This will allow you more time to respond to a moose on or near the highway.
– Pay attention to Warning signs; they mark high-risk areas. These signs were placed along the roadways for good reason! Slow down and watch for moose.
– Scan both sides of the road ahead as far as possible, especially when you are in a posted high-risk accident zone.
– The best way to avoid an accident is to spot the moose well in advance. Drivers report that in most accidents they did not see the moose until immediately before impact. Moose on the right side of the vehicle are avoided more often than those on the left because drivers concentrate more on the right. Therefore it important to scan both sides of the road.
– Use extreme caution whenever you see an animal. No matter what it appears to be doing or how far it is from the road, slow down.
– Moose are unpredictable. The moose you see standing calmly at the edge of the road could bolt in front of your vehicle at the last moment.
– Don’t let yourself be distracted. A driver who is alone and concentrating on the road is less likely to strike a moose than is a driver whose attention wanders while talking to a passenger.
– Remember that most accidents occur on clear nights and on straight road sections, maybe because drivers are more cautious on curves or in poor weather.
– Keep your windshield and headlights clean. Drive with your headlights on high beam unless approaching or overtaking other traffic.
– Wear your seatbelt. Seatbelts save lives.
(Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Environment and Conservation)