Nov. 15, 2006 - Deer Can Be A Roadside Hazard
Deer Can Be A Roadside Hazard
For many people one of the pleasant things about driving on Saskatchewan's roads is seeing wildlife. The ducks and geese bobbing in a roadside pond, the hawks sitting on power poles and round bales and the deer along the side of the road are all part of a drive through rural Saskatchewan.
But some of those animals, especially white-tailed deer, can quickly change from a roadside highlight to a roadside hazard. This is especially true during the fall when the animals search for mates and again during the spring when the deer look for fresh grass along the edge of the road.
"If you happen to see a deer on or near the road, chances are there are more close by," says Gary Provencher, Saskatchewan Environment conservation officer. "It's always a good idea to slow down when you see deer. That is certainly true at night when you often aren't able to see much more than your headlights reflecting from their eyes. We want motorists and the animals to be safe and slowing down will reduce the chances of a collision with a deer."
SGI estimates that collisions with deer account for 10 to 15 per cent of their annual damage claim costs. In 2005, that equaled over $28 million. There were also 254 injuries and three deaths in 2005 that resulted from collisions with wildlife.
There are a number of reasons for the increase in vehicle and wildlife collisions. They include increased traffic flows on some highways and an increase in the number of white-tailed, mule deer and moose in parts of the province, especially in the areas along the forest fringe and in some blocks of high-quality habitat that are near major highways.
In an attempt to help people understand the threat wildlife can pose to vehicles, SGI is contributing to the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation's education and awareness campaign called "Slow Down and Save a Buck".
"We want to help drivers realize there could be deer and moose on nearly every highway in Saskatchewan and they need to watch for them," says Darrell Crabbe, Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation executive director. "We would like to see drivers slow down, especially at night and pay more attention to deer warning signs along highways. The signs are posted where there are reports of a lot of animals in the area or where there have been accidents."
While collisions with deer and moose get the most attention, there are a large number of small mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians that are hit and killed by vehicles every year. Because they often don't cause damage, the accidents aren't reported.
"We don't know how many of these small animals are killed every year," says Environment's Provencher. "If driving a bit more cautiously can reduce the number of reported accidents, it should have a similar effect on the number of unreported collisions."
Provencher says reducing the number of wildlife collisions can help contribute to a healthier and more vibrant provincial ecosystem.
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