Driving in Moose Country
Did you know: Per mile driven, Alaska has one of the highest rates of moose-vehicle collisions in the world!
Hundreds of moose are struck and killed by motorists each year on Alaska’s roadways. While the majority of wildlife–vehicle collisions involve moose, other large mammals including caribou, bear and bison cause accidents too. Roads often cut through an animal’s home range or travel corridor, creating a safety hazard for both people and wildlife. The situation is exacerbated in winter months when it is difficult for drivers to see. In addition, deep snow can push wildlife into oncoming traffic. Cleared roadways offer easy travel when drifts grow deep, and young trees and shrubs growing along highway margins can attract hungry moose. Most roadkills occur during the dark, snowy months of December, January and February; however, there is another spike in the number of collisions in June due to the movement of cows with their newly born calves. Drivers should be on the look-out for moose and other wildlife near roadways any time of year.
The following chart shows the average number of moose that are killed by vehicles on an annual basis in regions of the state.
|Region||Average Number of Moose-Vehicle Collisions|
|Municipality of Anchorage||120|
Moose movements around roadways are unpredictable and collisions can be deadly for moose and motorists. To help prevent accidents with moose, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game suggests drivers practice the following safe driving habits:
- Slow down. Reduce your driving speed, especially when visibility is restricted by terrain, weather or headlights of on-coming traffic.
- Be alert. Deliberately and continuously scan for wildlife on both sides of the road and along road corridors and medians.
- Keep a distance. Increase the space between you and the car in front of you to allow for greater braking distances and reaction time.
- Clean vehicle headlights and windshields. Moose can be difficult to see and most vehicle-moose accidents occur at dawn and dusk when the light is low and moose are most active.
- Know your local “moose hotspots.” Take note of places where moose are commonly seen and where drivers most often run into moose.
- Watch for signs. Use extra caution near posted moose crossings. Also, watch for flickering in the headlights of oncoming traffic. This may be an indication that an animal is crossing in front of that oncoming vehicle.
- Look for more. If you do spot a moose on the side of the road, watch for others. Cow moose are often accompanied by calves. Be especially alert if you see cows looking behind them after crossing the road.
- Moose Safety Tips From the Alaska Highway Safety Office
- Wildlife and Highways Workgroup (ADF&G – DOT&PF)