News & Media

Wildlife pose a threat to drivers on roads, SGI reminds drivers to be vigilant

by Adriana Christianson (News Talk 980 CJME)
August 8, 2012

On Tuesday night a 52-year-old man was killed on impact in a collision with an elk on Highway 38 near Kelvington.

This is the second fatal crash involving wildlife in less than a month after RCMP officer Derek Pineo died in a crash with a moose near Wilkie.

These stories have brought more attention to the dangers of drivers meeting large animals on the road, however both the RCMP and SGI say the numbers are not going up.

Unfortunately, SGI says these numbers of incidents involving wildlife and drivers are on par with other years.

“Just over 300 injuries as a result of wildlife collisions in 2011 and then we did see two fatalities on our roads,” said Rebecca Rogoschewsky, communications manager for SGI.

Last year SGI saw 16,000 total claims from these types of incidents. Currently they don’t track numbers specific to moose or elk but deer accounted for 11,0000 of those crashes. Rogoschewsky says in 2011 those numbers actually went down slightly from years before, but they do recognize the issue as serious.

“In total we saw about $47 million worth of claims due to wildlife last year which of course is a huge number,” she said.

Rogoschewsky says SGI is working with the Saskatchewan Environment and the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure along with the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation to bring those numbers down and keep people safer.

The Saskatchewan Minister of Environment, Ken Cheveldayoff has said they are looking into options on how to minimize the moose population next year which may include increasing hunting licenses.

Darrel Crabbe with the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation says one of the issues is that people just aren’t used to watching out for the bigger animals like moose or elk.

“(Collisions) happen in higher traffic areas where the speeds are a little higher and people don’t expect to see a moose coming across a four lane highway,” he said.

Crabbe admits moose do pose a bigger threat to drivers due to their sheer size. They are especially dangerous because you can’t see their eyes in the dark.

“Normally we’re looking for the eyes, the reflection of the eyes from the deer and that sort of thing,” he explained. “But in a moose  a lot of people watch for the white socks.”

The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation is working with SGI to hunt down different ways around the world to stop wildlife from getting on the roads. One method is to fence off large areas of wilderness from the road, but it’s very expensive and he thinks it might actually just move animals down to the ends.

Another method used in B.C. is to build overpasses and underpasses for wildlife to cross on.

“It’s a difficult situation but I think the best case is for everyont to just be a little more vigilant,’ he said.