Study reveals September is the busiest month for moose and deer collisions

The bull moose crossing the Highway 60 at Algonquin Provincial Park on a foggy morning during Fall season. Moose and deer collisions Photo by NelzTabcharani316/Shutterstock

A study from the British Columbia Medical Journal has revealed that collisions with moose in the province are most frequent in the month of September.

Researchers compared the outcomes of moose-vehicle and deer-vehicle collisions in B.C., and they found collisions with these animals peaked in certain months. Seventeen per cent of moose collisions happened in the month of September, and 25 per cent of deer collisions happened in August, with December and June also being high frequency periods for both animals.

Researchers also looked at how patients were treated in hospital after colliding with the two animals, and found that drivers who collided with moose typically suffered more severe injuries. They attribute the severity of the injuries to the large size and high centre of gravity of the animal. “When a vehicle strikes a moose, the point of contact is usually the moose’s legs; thus, the torso of the moose often lands on the hood of the car and slides up and through the windshield and across the dashboard of the car, coming in contact with the upper body of the motorists,” they said.

Drivers who collided with moose were far more likely to have their airbags deployed and be admitted to the hospital via ambulance than those who collided with deer, according to the study. Once in the hospital, only seven per cent of drivers who collided with a deer needed specialty medical treatment, while 27 per cent of drivers who collided with moose required the same.

Jadzia Porter, a spokesperson for the Wildlife Collision Prevention Program, says commuters can take steps to avoid dangerous driving collisions with moose and deer. “Almost all wildlife vehicle collisions are preventable with safe driving,” she says.

Wildlife collision prevention can start before entering the car, says Porter. Drivers should make sure they’re not too tired or distracted to give their full attention to the road, and they should also ensure their vehicles brakes, mirrors, and lights are all working properly. 

Once they’re in the car, drivers should adhere to speed limits and be on the lookout for wildlife and wildlife warning signs. If possible, travelers should consider alternative routes to those with high wildlife traffic. Commuters should also drive slowly, especially when visibility is low or at dawn and dusk, when these animals are most active. 

In most cases, it is better to break than to swerve to avoid wildlife, Porter says. Swerving can veer you towards other equally dangerous obstacles like medians, barriers, and oncoming traffic. “If you’re driving slow enough you can likely use your brakes to avoid an animal in the road and not feel as though you have to swerve,” she says.

There are important steps to take in the event of a collision, says Porter. These incidents should be reported to authorities regardless of outcome, but drivers should contact the RCMP if there are injuries, there is vehicle damage over $1,000, the animal is unsafe to move, or if the animal is in an unsafe spot on the road. 

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