News outlets around North Bay, Ontario, are this week reporting on a seasonal spike in wildlife-vehicle collisions. BayToday.ca noted that in a seven-day period, the Ontario Provincial Police in the sparsely-populated area responded to 16 incidents involving vehicles and wildlife.
“Seven of those were involving moose, eight involved deer and one vehicle collided with a black bear,” BayToday.ca wrote. “No serious injuries were reported and in several of the cases, the drivers had to take evasive action to avoid hitting the animal which actually caused the collision.”
Late spring is one of two peak periods for wildlife-vehicle collisions in Ontario, as young animals are exploring and general activity is up. The other is fall, during mating season for deer.
By following four simple steps, drivers of any region can greatly reduce the risks of injuring themselves – or wildlife – when driving:
- Pay attention to signs. Animal crossing signs are posted only in areas where increased activity is known to happen. These signs are your first warning that there’s an increased probability you’ll see an animal along the side of the road, or trying to cross it. Be aware of this to reduce collisions.
- Give yourself time to slow down or stop. Speed is often a factor in many collisions – and in wildlife-vehicle collisions it’s a major issue. Police will say “don’t overdrive your headlights” and that means to keep your speed to a limit in which you can stop within the illuminated area of your headlights.
- Use your high beams. Whenever possible, use your vehicle’s high beams and keep your eyes on the sides of the road. You’ll often see bright eyes reflected in the lights before anything else, giving you an indication that animals are present. Also be aware that if you see one animal, there are likely others nearby.
- Pay attention. Distracted driving is always dangerous – and it can make the difference between saving an animal’s life – and your own. If you need to use your phone, make sure it’s with a hands-free option or pull over when safe.
The Fur-Bearers are strong proponents of wildlife under and overpasses, highway fencing, and other methods that reduce collisions. But at the end of the day, it comes down to the willingness of drivers to be responsible and keep every Canadian family – both two and four-legged – safe.