The stretch of Highway 97 between 100 Mile House to Quesnel has a very high number of deer vehicle collisions, according to the BC Conservation Foundation Wildlife Collision Prevention Program.
In a press release issued Friday, the foundation encouraged drivers to watch out for moose, deer, and other animals on local roads, warning there can be up to two or three wildlife collisions every day in October and November.
“Although a collision with wildlife can happen at any place and at any time, on Cariboo roads, there is a sharp spike in wildlife vehicle collisions that begins in October,” said Barb Waters, regional manager, BC Conservation Foundation. “The critical times to watch for wildlife on the roads are between 6 to 8 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.”
Foundation co-ordinator Gail Hesse reminded the public that there are peaks in the spring with deer coming out onto roads and again in the fall.
“Wildlife warning signs are also placed where the most collisions occur, but because 99 times out of 100 times you don’t see a moose standing beside the moose sign the hazard is not reinforced to people so they tend to forget the sign actually means something,” Hesse said, adding people tend to overlook the signs or alter driving behaviour.
Community specific information from ICBC animal crash data shows that in the Cariboo region, there are over 900 animal collisions every year and that annually in northern B.C., about three people are killed and 140 people are injured in wildlife collisions.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure noted since 1993, 4,700 wild animals are reported killed annually on B.C. highways.
In 2002, deer represented about 77 per cent of the wild animals killed and during the last 10 years, about 80 per cent of wildlife collisions involved deer.
Bear-related vehicle collisions peak in September in the north parts of the province and in October in the south parts.
Last month a Williams Lake resident said he had hit a bear outside of Quesnel while driving north.
The Wildlife Collision Prevention Program offers the following hints for the highway
Both drivers and passengers must actively watch for wildlife on the road and roadside area. People think of the road as a dangerous place, but in fact, animals are often attracted to the road and roadside area. Drive expecting to see wildlife.
During the rutting season animals are frequently on the move, and vehicles might be the last thing on their minds. Animals don’t think or perceive danger the same way that humans do. They may not recognize a vehicle as dangerous or a horn as a warning, or even if they do, they may not react safely. Animals are unpredictable in their behaviour and may bolt in front of a vehicle or cross and then immediately re-cross the road.
Deer are often seen in groups, so if there is one animal there are usually more. The deer you are watching may not be the one that poses the threat; it may be the second or third deer following behind that causes the problem.