By Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG

As the peak of the summer season approaches, so too does peak season for wildlife-vehicle collisions in northern B.C. Advocates are reminding residents of the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George to drive with caution along rural highways.

Deer and moose may change their usual travelling habits and cross roads more often during summertime, according to a press release from Road Safety at Work, which advocates for the safety of people who drive for work or work on the roadside.

Collisions with moose are of particular concern in northern B.C., Road Safety at Work Program Director Trace Acres told The Goat.

“Moose can weigh up to 700 kilograms or 1,500 pounds, and hitting one of those at highway speeds can be like running into a brick wall,” Acres said. “Across the province, four drivers die every year in collisions with animals and almost 900 are injured. It’s a risk in all parts of the province, and I would say in the northern half of the province, where there are many more rural roadways, that it is an even greater risk.”

Acres said it’s best to avoid driving in early morning and late evening, when animals are most active. When that isn’t possible, he encourages drivers to be cautious.

“The best thing you can do is to be alert and aware of the presence of wildlife. For example, if you see one deer on the side of the road, chances are there are more,” he said.

Jadzia Porter, Program Coordinator for the Wildlife Collision Prevention Program, had similar observations. Formed in 2001 by the B.C. Conservation Foundation and ICBC, the program runs public awareness campaigns and conducts research on wildlife-vehicle collisions.

Most moose collisions in B.C. occur on highways around Prince George, according to research from the program. 

Wildlife collisions are costly, dangerous for animals and drivers, and can leave young animals orphaned, Porter said. This is especially true of moose, which are large enough to cause significant damage to cars.

“The good news is a vast majority of wildlife-vehicle collisions can be prevented with safe driving: making sure that you and your vehicle are ready to be on the road, you’re not too tired to drive and don’t drive distracted,” Porter said.

Drivers should make sure their headlights and brakes are working, and that their windshield is clear enough and mirrors are well-adjusted so they can see easily, she added. Reducing speed and being prepared for animals behaving unpredictably can also help.

“Increased speed can increase your stopping distance, so if there’s wildlife on the road and you’re going pretty quick, it’s a lot harder to react in time and have time to brake,” she said. “Drive defensively, scanning the roadside for wildlife and kind of always thinking, ‘What if an animal jumped in front of me right now? How would I react? Would I have time to stop?’”

Porter added that while it’s considered risky to swerve away from smaller animals, drivers are recommended to swerve away from moose, as they may crush a car’s windshield or roof when hit.

The Wildlife Collision Prevention Program is in the midst of further research on wildlife-vehicle collisions, as collisions are underreported, said Porter. B.C. residents can use iNaturalist, a citizen science app that lets people share images and notes with researchers, to participate in the program’s Report Roadkill BC project.

The program, which is a registered not-for-profit, also accepts donations at