With big game at lower elevations, wildlife-vehicle collisions increase in winter
Winter is already hard on deer, moose and other big game, and being near busy roads and highways can be deadly, so drivers are asked to keep a sharp eye out and avoid costly and potentially dangerous collisions .
Hitting a deer or moose is dangerous for drivers and passengers, often resulting in thousands of dollars in vehicle damage, not to mention avoidable loss of wildlife.
“Motorists need to be extra careful and slow down, especially in low light conditions when visibility is limited,” said Toby Boudreau, Fish and Game Deer and Elk Coordinator. “Being extra careful and vigilant is your best defense.”
The following precautions will help reduce the risk of an animal collision:
- Big game animals are especially active at dawn, dusk and at night. Motorists should drive extra carefully during these times.
- Scan ahead and watch for movement, especially near the fog line and the side of the road. When driving at night, watch out for shining eyes in the headlights.
- If you see one animal crossing the road, slow down immediately and look for more animals to follow.
- Take extra care in areas with wildlife crossing signs. They are there for a good reason.
- Using high beams can help you spot wildlife, but be mindful of other drivers when using them.
- Not tailgate. Always keep a safe distance between you and the car in front to avoid an accident. If that driver suddenly brakes for an animal on the road, you may not be able to react in time.
- Swerve and risk losing control of your vehicle. Try to brake as much as possible and stay on the road.
The most serious accidents occur when drivers lose control of their vehicle while trying to avoid an animal. It is usually safer to hit the animal than another object such as a tree or other vehicle.
Motorists must report any injury-related collisions to the Public Safety Department by calling 911, which will send officers to the scene. If possible, move your vehicle to a safe place and warn oncoming traffic with your emergency flashers until law enforcement arrives.
Motorists who encounter a dead animal on the side of the road are encouraged to report the roadkill on the Idaho Fish and Game website. The information collected on wildlife collisions helps identify high-risk areas and potential solutions to make highways safer.
Humans can also recover and keep some game animals killed by accidental car collisions. You have 24 hours to notify Fish and Game if you have recovered an animal and 72 hours to obtain a salvage permit.
For more information about Fish and Game’s roadkill and salvage web pageincluding reporting requirements and a list of species that may be legally salvaged, please refer to or contact your nearest Fish and Game office.