We have already seen and heard of a couple bad collisions involving wildlife and we aren't out of the woods yet.
Brendan Cox, Communications Advisor for Justice and Solicitor General says this is the worst time of the year for wildlife versus vehicle collisions. "That is mostly because there will be different species mating this time of year and also they can be attracted to roads. It can be easier for them to move along roads, the vegetation can be good to eat and they are often well groomed."
With road/highways being easier for wildlife to travel along, Cox share drivers need to be extra cautious and vigilant when behind the wheel, especially, this time of year. "Some species are already finished their rut or are near the end of their rut (mating season) but some will continue to look for a mate for perhaps another couple of weeks. Once that is over, it should help and we should see fewer animals going out of their way and going to places they don't normally go. But throughout the winter, roads will continue to be an easy spot for wildlife because sometimes vegetation is uncovered closer to roads and they can go there to get food and it's also easier to travel rather than trudging through deep snow. Right now is the worst time for wildlife collisions but that doesn't mean that people shouldn't be vigilant throughout the winter and even other times during the year."
Wildlife will also travel near bodies of water such as streams or rivers and some species will remain active all year round, which is why a level of caution should always be taken when behind the wheel.
If you do find yourself involved in a collision with wildlife, Cox says your course of action is dependent on a couple of things. "If the animal has passed away, we ask people to phone 511 to get hold of an Alberta Transportation office and that way a highway contractor can be contacted to remove the carcass and make sure it is not a danger to other motorists. But if the animal is still suffering then we would encourage people to report that to the Fish and Wildlife office. The best way to get hold of an officer at all times of the day is through the 'Report A Poacher' line at 1-800-642-3800."
Trying to move the deceased or injured animal on your own can be quite dangerous, says Cox. "Like most things, it will be dependent on the facts at hand but we certainly encourage people not to move the animal or handle it themselves."
Cox shares a few pointers on how to keep yourself and wild animals safe. "Some ways to potentially avoid a collision with an animal is to use your high beams when it is safe. If that is not a danger and if there is no oncoming traffic then turn on your high beams when you can, as the light from your headlights will sometimes reflect in an animal's eyes which could enable you to see them a bit sooner. Be prepared to stop whenever you are driving and pay attention to what other people are doing on the road. If other people are slowing down it could be a sign that animals are up ahead."
While Cox did not have any statistics for wildlife collisions, he did say that ungulates or deer, moose, and elk are the most commonly struck animals. "Most collisions happen when drivers are not being as cautious; just because the weather is fair and the roads are bare doesn't mean that something can't happen...so maintain a level of vigilance."