Caution Wildlife – Drive with Care

Fort St John DeerIt is that time of year again when the daylight hours are slowly growing shorter and the wildlife is roaming nearer to residences and roads.

In all of my years of driving, I have been lucky not to collide with any wildlife…there were many occasions growing up in the Cariboo, central British Columbia (yes that is the correct spelling of the area) and living approximately 20kms out of town, but I was always lucky to avoid any encounters. Until last weekend!

After a nice week of visiting my family in the Cariboo my husband and I were heading back to Fort St John and not even 2 hours into our trip, there was an extremely loud bang next to me on the passenger side. I jumped and as I turned my head all I could see was a flash of brown…then nothing. I looked into the side mirror and the dirt bike that was strapped to a rack on the back of the truck was hanging off the rack and the front end was dragging on the highway. At this point, my husband was already trying to pull over.dsc05929

We found a safe spot to stop and got out to see the damage. The truck had a few dents on the side from the impact of the animal…the dirt bike, on the other hand, needs a new front end.

The worst part was, we thought the deer got up and ran away. We didn’t see it after it hit us and it wasn’t on the highway, but we soon realized that it ended up in the deep ditch. I didn’t see it…my husband went to have a look. We called the Conservation Officer in Williams Lake and he promptly came out to make sure it had died and to take it away. With lots of tears (on my end) we continued our journey home.

wildlifesignThe whole way home I kept thinking about how much wildlife gets hit each year (after seeing another dead deer and a dead black bear on the side of the road) and what we can do to help. In 2012, Transport Canada stated that an “average of more than 100 large animal-vehicle collisions occur across the country each day”. I bet 4 years on that number has grown significantly as there are more vehicles on roads.

I know Alberta has put in many wildlife bridge crossings above highways and I have heard of countries putting in wildlife alarm sensors that make a noise and scare wildlife from coming too close to the road. I have heard a lot about deer whistles for cars, but most new-picture-3_thumbreports reveal they don’t work. So, what can we do? Drive slowly at dawn and dusk, be vigilant around areas that display wildlife crossing signs, and always remember if there is one deer there are probably more as they travel in groups.

We made it home without any further delays. The truck is currently being assessed by the insurance company. Unfortunately, the dirt bike isn’t covered under the truck insurance even though it was attached to the truck, so we are out of luck with that one. Hubby will have to fix it himself…or as he already proclaimed “it’s time for a new bike!”

I can’t end this sad deer tale (no pun intended) without lightening the mood a little. After mark-uppicking up the truck from the assessors the other day I drove to a store and parked. I looked over and a man was motioning for me to roll down my passenger window. I did. He looked very excited and said, “do your children draw all over your truck as well?!” I was taken back and confused…excuse me? He repeated his question and added, “because my kids draw all over my truck all of the time.” It suddenly dawned on me that the assessors must have circled all of the damage on the side of the truck as they were taking pictures for the insurance company. I laughed and replied, “no a deer hit the side of the truck, the assessors must have circled the damage”. The man looked disappointed as he said, “oh ok have a good day” and walked away. I realized that he must have been excited to find someone with similar kid problems and wanted to share a laugh, but unfortunately, my truck was marked up by big kids with checklists. Do kids normally draw on vehicles? Either way, it made me laugh and that is just what I needed after a couple of rough days.

For more information on what to do in British Columbia if an animal hits you or you find an injured/died animal click: DriveSmartBC. Did you know it is an offence in BC if you wound or kill wildlife and don’t report it to an officer?!


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