Drivesmart column: Collision with an animal, what to do?

One estimate places this number at 12,000 annually.

By Tim Schewe

Over the 11 years ending in 2017 an average of about 5,762 wildlife collisions were noted in the Wildlife Accident Reporting System each year. The data is provided by B.C.’s road maintenance contractors. I suspect that this number is not the entire picture as some animals are able to struggle away from the collision scene and die unnoticed. One estimate places this number at 12,000 annually.

The human cost is high as well. An average of four humans die annually in crashes involving animals of some sort on B.C. highways. Reported in 2019, ICBC says it sees about $41 million in claim costs annually in relation to motor-vehicle collisions involving animals.

November and May share the distinction of being the most likely month for you to run into wildlife on B.C.’s roads, literally. Eighty per cent of wildlife collisions in this province involve deer and occur between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. However, moose, elk, bear and sheep are involved as well.

Deer whistles are useless. The animals have a narrower range of hearing than humans do, so if you can’t hear it, they can’t either! Studies show that they have little or no impact on roadside animals and researchers suspect that if they did, the startled animal has as much chance of moving onto the highway as they do away from it.

The BCSPCA advises that you should contact their cruelty hotline at 1-855-622-7722 or local animal control so that someone may be dispatched to assist the animal. While the BCSPCA does not provide animal control services in all communities in B.C., their call centre operators do have access to animal control agency numbers throughout B.C. and may be able to provide some assistance, albeit over the telephone.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure advises that the actions which can, and ideally should, be taken are set out in the Wildlife Collision Prevention Program website. If you collide with and kill a wild or domestic animal, you can report this to DriveBC on line as a non-emergency problem. They will notify the road maintenance contractor of the location and steps will be taken to remove the carcass on your behalf.

The Ministry of the Environment advises that it is a legal requirement to notify them of the killing or wounding of most larger wildlife. The report may be made through the Conservation Officer Service’s Report All Poachers and Polluters line at 1-877-952-7277.

Finally, the police are available at all times and may be available to asist you, particularly where the animal is injured and needs to be destroyed.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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