It’s almost fall. And just as sure as the leaves change colour and the days get shorter, you can expect to see more wildlife on the road.

For big game, the fall is rutting season, a time when they’re intent on mating and nearly oblivious to traffic. Deer and moose can be downright unpredictable, making driving hazardous.

“The sudden appearance of a large animal in the middle of the highway, seemingly out of nowhere, is any driver’s nightmare,” says the Canada Safety Council.

Colliding with one can be like a scene out of a horror movie.

Watchful tips

Wildlife Awareness

To avoid such a scenario, Enform’s Frontline magazine asked Lyle Fullerton of Alberta Environment and Parks for his advice. He’s what he recommends:

  • Slow down at night, especially if you’re not used to the roads. Most collisions with animals are between dusk and dawn.
  • Pay attention to wildlife warning signs and look well down the road and far off to each side.
  • Watch for wildlife around woods and water.
  • Slow down when rounding a curve or reaching the crest of a hill.
  • When possible, use your high-beam lights at night to illuminate road edges.
  • “Eye-shine,” or the reflection of light in some animal’s eyes, is often the first sign of animals at night.
  • Seeing one animal could signal others are nearby.
  • Be prepared to stop if you see an animal; even if it’s already crossed the road, it can turn back into your path.
  • Deer tend to fixate on headlights; flashing your lights may cause them to move.
  • When you see wildlife on or near the roadway, reduce your speed, tap your brakes to warn other drivers (flash your high beams and sound your horn).
  • If you can’t avoid a collision, maintain control and stay on the road; avoid braking hard as it lowers the front of your vehicle, meaning the animal can come right through the windshield. Do not swerve as it can put you in the path of other vehicles or into the ditch.
  • If you see (or are in) a collision with an animal, report it to the nearest RCMP or police detachment right away.

If you are an oil and gas field worker and want to learn more, you can take Enform’s Wildlife Awareness Online Course, which includes bear awareness.