Deer have entered mating season. Highway crews have in past observed a peak in vehicular collisions involving the animals. Black Press File

How do crews deal with roadkill?

ICBC record an average of 10,000 collisions between wildlife and vehicles each year

It is not the prettiest job, but it can also be rewarding.

As manager of Mainroad South Island in Victoria, Stuart Eton oversees the crews who maintain the local highways.

As such, they have to pick up what people colloquially call roadkill: the remains of wild animals and pets, which humans have unintentionally killed with their vehicles, while travelling.

Once crews have picked up the remains, they deposit them in a special storage unit.

Working with organizations like Find Lost and Escaped Dogs (FLED) of Vancouver Island, and the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA), crews then help identify animals based on available descriptions, collars and tags.

Pet owners can be very attached to their animals, said Eaton. “I have had people come down here,” he said. “It’s very emotional. I have even had thank-you cards, saying ‘thanking you for looking after my animal.’”

While that does not happen every day, it marks a break from a job that is not pleasant, but nonetheless provides an important service.

For Eaton and his staff, picking up animal remains is a 24-hour job with seasonal peaks, especially around deer mating season, which lasts from October to December.

Pretty much every day, crews pick up the remains of various creatures, both large and small, while performing road maintenance duties in the Greater Victoria area, he said. “We even had a pot-belly big,” he said.

While it is not clear how many animals die in traffic, estimates for North America peg the annual figure in the millions.

The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) recorded some 93,853 dead animals on provincial highways between 1998 to 2007, a figure that may represent only 25 to 35 per cent of the real number, as official statistics fail to capture animals that die just outside outside highway right-of-ways, animals removed by natural scavengers or predators, animals covered by vegetation, and animals becoming unrecognizable after being run over successive times. Passing motorists may also remove larger animals like deer or moose before crews pick them up.

About 80 per cent of reported wildlife collisions involve deer, while moose, elk, bears, coyotes and other wildlife make up the remaining 20 per cent, according to the Wildlife Collision Prevention Program — a partnership between the British Columbia Conservation Foundation (BCCF) and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), in response to the increasing number and severity of wildlife vehicle collisions in B.C.

Notably, these figures do not capture extremely common collisions with smaller wildlife species. Because they cause less damage to private property or human life, they rarely appear in official statistics, but nonetheless paint a grim picture. ICBC recorded an average of 10,000 collisions between wildlife and vehicles between 2011 and 2015, resulting in roughly 570 injuries and three fatalities to humans each year.

Biologists are also warning that human traffic endangers many rare and endangered species. These include rare turtles, large mammals, and various birds of prey attracted by animal remains, only to be run over themselves.

Drivers, according to MoTI, can take several steps to protect themselves. They should be extra careful in the early morning hours or at dusk and during the night, as these are times, when animals are most likely to be on the road.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City reviewing plans for huge Sandstone project in south Nanaimo

Seacliff Properties says it’s been told to be ready for a public hearing this fall

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

COVID-19 isn’t cancelling this year’s Tour de Rock

Alumni riders will cycle relay sections in their own communities

POLL: Can B.C. hold a provincial election safely during a pandemic?

Can B.C. hold a provincial election safely during a pandemic?… Continue reading

Trail proposed to connect Cedar and Yellow Point

Regional director says project fits with active transportation goals

POLL: Can B.C. hold a provincial election safely during a pandemic?

Can B.C. hold a provincial election safely during a pandemic?… Continue reading

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Nanaimo RCMP community policing needs a few good volunteers

Volunteers needed to help Nanaimo RCMP and city deliver crime prevention and safety programs

Protesters march in Nanaimo, calling for greater protection of forests and watersheds

March for the Forests happened downtown on Friday afternoon

City of Nanaimo begins project planning for multimillion-dollar public works yard upgrades

Councillors vote to reallocate $200,000 to develop architectural concepts and cost estimates

Nanaimo residents ticketed for putting out garbage bins the night before pickup

Conservation officers say they issued seven tickets this week, as warnings weren’t having an impact

Accused in Makayla Chang’s murder sees next court date in October

Steven Michael Bacon faces first-degree murder charge in killing of Nanaimo teen

Most Read