Avoiding Collisions with Wildlife

Wildlife vehicle collisions are a serious matter across the country, affecting both wildlife populations and public safety.

The National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) estimates there are between 725,000 and 1.5 million wildlife vehicle collisions annually in the United States, resulting in over 1 billion dollars in property damage.

According to the NCHRP, 200 human fatalities and 29,000 injuries occur every year in the US as a result of these accidents.

The MSPCA would like to encourage drivers to remember the following:

  • Moose and deer are more active during dusk and dawn, when visibility is reduced.
  • Deer collisions are found to occur most often during the migrating, mating, and hunting season between October and December.
  •  Moose collisions are more prominent during the fall breeding season, September and October, and in the spring when younger moose begin to venture out on their own.

These collisions can and do, however, occur any time during the year so it is important to always take the following precautions:

  • Always wear your seatbelt.
  • Follow speed limits and drive at appropriate speeds for the conditions you are facing.
  • Pay close attention to wildlife crossing signs. These signs are placed in common crossing areas and locations known to have higher densities of wildlife.
  • Slow down and be alert if you see an animal cross the road, as there are probably others present in the immediate area. This is especially true with deer.
  • Take advantage of your high beams when no traffic is approaching.
  • Have passengers assist by scanning sides of roadways.
  • Don’t forget to look above the direct line of your head-lights as the dark body of a moose is difficult to see at night and his eyes are at a much higher level in the air than a pair of white tail deer eyes.
  • If an animal is spotted on the side of the road, slow down, turn on your flashers to warn other drivers, and pass with caution, as animals may be startled and react erratically by running into the road.
  • Try your best not to swerve if an animal is in the road. Instead, apply your brakes firmly and sound your horn in short bursts. If you must change your path, only do so when you can maintain control, as many accidents are caused not by actual collisions with wildlife but rather by attempts to avoid them.
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