May 2, 2007
Secretary of State
Contact: Don Cookson, 626-8404
AUGUSTA, MAINE — Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap issued a reminder to motorists on Wednesday that with warmer weather finally arriving, now is the time to be especially vigilant in watching for wildlife lingering in Maine’s roadways.
“As summer approaches, many large animals are moving about seeking food and mates. At this time of year, wildlife activity is on the rise. At dawn and dusk, roving animals are most difficult to see from a motor vehicle,” Dunlap commented. He added, “You may not see a deer or moose until it’s directly in front of you,” he said, adding, “Significant property damage and injury can result in a collision with a large animal.”
Each year, more than 5,000 crashes are reported involving wildlife. Crashes with moose are especially dangerous, because moose often stand over seven feet tall at the shoulder. Collisions with moose often result in the moose coming through the windshield of an automobile. In the last 3 years, Maine has experienced seven fatal accidents involving collisions with a moose. No passenger vehicle is immune: these seven accidents have involved motorcycles, cars, even pickup trucks.
“Drivers must slow down in low light conditions,” Dunlap said. “They should also be mindful of road signs indicating deer and moose crossings. These are located in areas that have a history of crashes involving wildlife,” he added.
Dunlap emphasized that animals in the road often behave unpredictably. “Everyone has seen a squirrel run back and forth in the middle of a road. Deer, bear and moose may do something similar,” he said. Dunlap further recounted a near miss he had with an animal at dusk one evening. “I thought I saw a family of raccoons crossing the road. I slowed down quickly enough to avoid hitting a large bull moose. What I thought was raccoons were actually the hooves of the moose.”
Some years ago, the Department of the Secretary of State produced a video, “Hidden Hazards”, in cooperation with the Maine Department of Transportation and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, highlighting the dangers of encountering wildlife on Maine ’s roadways. “The lessons put forth in that video are still very timely today,” Dunlap said, noting “it’s always important to be vigilant in watching for obstructions in the roadway. The summer months mean increased motor vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic throughout our state. Be sure not to overlook the danger to drivers when our animal populations are on the move as well.”
Follow this link for a CNN report on the dangers of moose collisions: http://www.maine.gov/mdot/safetyoffice/sohome.php
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