Oh deer! Vehicle-animal collisions on the rise


By Eoin Devereux 
Neepawa Banner & Press

The number of unexpected and unwanted run-ins with wildlife are on the increase across the province. According to data gathered by Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI), over the past five years, Manitobans have reported an average of 11,000 crashes per year involving animals. That has resulted in more than 300 injuries every year, costing about $41 million annually in property damage. 

MPI spokesperson Brian Smiley noted that motorists should be especially careful on the roads over the next two months, which are the worst for vehicle collisions.

“October and November are the rutting seasons for the animals, the mating season. During this time, the animals are very transient, they are moving from territory to territory and unfortunately while they are moving they’re crossing roadways,” said Smiley.

According to MPI claim statistics, collected over a five year period, drivers in Manitoba’s Eastman region are most likely to have run-ins with deer, with 1,540 collisions reported annually. The Westman region followed closely behind at 1,400, while the Interlake was third at 1,060.

The MPI website has offered a few tips for drivers to avoid crashes with wildlife, including slowing down at areas marked by wildlife crossing signs and keep in mind that animals are normally more active at dawn, dusk and at night. If an animal crosses in front of your vehicle, it’s suggested that you dim your headlights, as your brights may cause a deer to freeze on the road and allow your horn to scare the animal away. Smiley added that it’s also important to avoid hard swerving.

“Drivers should not swerve, because that puts your vehicle in another lane, potentially hitting another vehicle. Instead, drivers should brake firmly to reduce the impact,” Smiley said.

“If you do hit a deer and it’s alive, don’t move it, They are in shock and certainly not easily handled and could injure you. Call police instead.”

Smiley concluded by stating that if the animal is dead and you wish to move it out of the way, make sure your hazard lights are on so your vehicle is visible to oncoming traffic. Most importantly, he stressed you have to be looking after your own personal safety, at all times and expect the unexpected.