Moose collisions most likely in winter months in B.C.

Moose in the road

While East Coast drivers need to be careful during the mid-summer months, drivers in British Columbia need to be the most alert of wandering moose in December and January.

These are the findings from a new study released earlier this month that compared moose collision statistics worldwide and across Canada.

Roy Rea, a senior instructor at the University of Northern British Columbia, found that in B.C., moose collisions peaked in the winter months. Regions with similar moose-friendly climates—like Alaska and Norway—also faced an increase in accidents during December and January. Rea discovered that in Eastern Canada, however, moose collisions are most likely to occur in the summer. These findings are in contrast to the widely held belief that accidents involving moose most often occur during the fall when they’re in rut.

So what’s the explanation for these geographic differences?

“I have a hypothesis,” Rea told the CBC. “I think it has to do with seasonal migrations here in British Columbia and Alaska where we have high elevation summer ranges that the animals can retreat to in the summer time. They’re up and away from where we’ve built our roads.”

Come winter, the build-up of snow drives the animals down to the heavily populated low valley ranges.

Rea points out, however, there is a common denominator between moose collisions across the board: most accidents occur at night.

According to the B.C. Ministry of Transportation’s Wildlife Accident Reporting System, there were 335 collisions in B.C. in 2012, the most recent year documented. While these numbers may seem high, Rea says they’re relative to the province’s overall moose population, which numbers around 150,000 to 200,000.

Meanwhile, the Wildlife Collision Prevention Program reports that in British Columbia, there was almost 1,000 animal-related collisions in 2014 and that 450 people were injured in these collisions.

Approximately 80 percent of all wildlife collisions in B.C. involve deer, while the remaining 20 percent involve moose, elk, bears, and coyotes.