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

Mural artists announced for Nanaimo’s inaugural Hub City Walls festival

Local artists Kara Dee Harrison, Russell Morland and Austin Weflen to paint downtown walls

Lights shine on Nanaimo’s Serauxmen Stadium

$1.1-million lighting project will extend baseball season, says City of Nanaimo

Crews put out fire in basement of Nanaimo’s Bastion

Front Street closed at Bastion Street

Province announces plans for permanent supportive housing on Terminal and three other sites

B.C. ministry and City of Nanaimo partnering on 190 supportive housing units

City of Nanaimo looking into making council’s voting records more accessible

Coun. Sheryl Armstrong says a lot of citizens have asked for additional transparency measure

Sources say Canada, U.S. likely to extend mutual travel ban into late August

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted at the possibility after a phone call with U.S. President

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Port Alberni will have a salmon derby on Labour Day after all

Alberni Valley Tyee Club reveals ‘socially distanced’ derby only for Labour Day 2020

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Province providing financing to help get apartments built in Nanaimo’s Wellington area

120 apartments on Ledgerwood Road intended to be affordable for ‘middle-income’ households

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Duncan model makes quarter finals in ‘Maxim’ magazine contest

Brandee Peart among top one per cent left in competition

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Most Read