Winter road kill numbers down

Posted: Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Imagine yourself in your SUV. It's early in the morning and your late for work. You're groggy from too little sleep, yet your speeding to make it in on time. You reach for that cup of coffee hoping a little caffeine will perk you up.

At the same time a large cow moose strides into the road, minding her own business, blissfully unaware of the imminent collision course she's on.

You look up from the coffee and in the few seconds a wall of brown has materialized in front of you. The screeching sound as you stomp the brakes is the last thing you here before ... CRASH!

You step from your crumpled, smoking vehicle to see the furry, lifeless animal that lays beside the road.

This is a scenario no one wants to see happen, but all too many already have experienced. In fact, 150 people have experienced this already on the peninsula this year, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

"Road kills are down this year compared to last year," said administrative clerk Eric Berg. "As of April 21, we were only up to 150 moose."

In 2002, Fish and Game recorded 241 moose killed between July 1, 2001 through June 30, 2002, on the highways and byways of the peninsula.

Berg attributed the low numbers to the easier conditions the animals had during the mild winter. Since snow didn't accumulate to the usual depths, moose were able to travel in search of food without relying on the roads as much.

However, don't be lulled into a false sense of security by the low numbers.

"The road kill potential for moose is still very possible," Berg said. "It's important to still be cautious and alert while driving."

No one likes to see an animal lose its life needlessly, and the human factor is even more of a concern.

In addition to the expense that can be caused from a collision with a moose, loss of human life for hitting an animal, or attempting to avoid collision, is a common scenario.

Although some might disagree, road kill doesn't have to be inevitable. You don't have to become a "road worrier," but by driving carefully and keeping you eyes peeled for moose, your chances of hitting a one can be reduced.

It's good to keep your eyes moving and glance continually from the road to the roadside, inspecting shoulders and medians. Be especially cautious at night, since moose are even harder to see in the dark. It's safer and easier to anticipate animals in the road than it is to miss them once they are in front of you.

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