October 27 , 2004 – With nearly 300 Manitobans injured – some seriously – last year as the result of automobile-wildlife collisions, Manitoba Public Insurance is encouraging motorists to exercise caution when travelling in areas populated by wildlife.
“This fall we’ve already seen two fatalities that appear to have been caused by deer on the highway,” says Barry Watson, Road Safety Manager of Manitoba Public Insurance.
“Motorists are advised to pay special attention to wildlife crossing signs and be particularly cautious. People tend to become complacent about those signs, but they mark areas of real danger, where animals are especially numerous. A few seconds of caution could avoid a tragedy.”
In addition to the human loss, there’s an economic cost – a record $20.1 million was paid out in wildlife claims last year by Manitoba Public Insurance, marking the fourth consecutive year wildlife collisions have increased.
November is traditionally the worst month, with 1,632 collisions reported between wildlife and motor vehicles during that month last year. In total, 10,475 wildlife collisions were reported to Manitoba Public Insurance in 2003.
October was the second worst month last year, with 1,356 wildlife collisions reported to Manitoba Public Insurance.
Provincial wildlife officials explain that October and November are the worst months because it’s mating season for deer populations, resulting in increased travel by the animals.
“Deer populations are high right now, so the chance of collision is higher,” said Bob Carmichael of Manitoba Conservation. “It can happen at any time of the day, but motorists should be especially vigilant between dusk and dawn, when the animals are more likely to be feeding by the roadside.”
Carmichael also encourages motorists to reduce speed, and use high beams where safe to do so.
“While road signs do indicate areas of increased danger, please remember that deer or other wildlife can show up anywhere at any time, even in non-forested areas,” said Carmichael.
Motorists in the Brandon/Westman region need to be particularly alert: last year 2,200 wildlife claims were reported in that region. But not all wildlife claims were from the rural areas: about 2,400 wildlife claims were reported to the Winnipeg claim centres.
Watching for wildlife signs and scanning the roadside and ditches for wildlife are valuable tips that will protect both motorists and animals, says Watson.