After four animals were hit by vehicles in the span of less than an hour, the Sublette County Sheriff’s office put out a reminder to the public that wildlife this time of year is more likely to be on and around Wyoming’s roads.
“We are at that time of year when animals are migrating, its darker longer and harder to see them. So slow down and give animals a ‘brake’,” the office said in a statement.
Between 5:40am – 6:30am on Tuesday, four animals were struck including two deer, one moose, and a cow. Of those, only the cow survived. No people were injured in the accidents.
“The cow is OK,” Sgt. Travis Bingham told Cowboy State Daily. “It walked off. The moose was pretty messed up so they had to put it down. The cow was in good shape, however, with no injuries.”
The spate of vehicle vs. animal accidents in such a short time frame is unusual, Bingham said. But this time of year, motorists should expect to see wildlife on the road, especially between dusk and dawn.
The best way to avoid problems, he said, is to slow down and to stay vigilant.
“Pay particular attention to the barrow ditches on both sides of the road because they can come out of nowhere,” he said.
Although Sublette County does have elevated wildlife crossings and higher fences on some roads to keep wildlife off of busy highways, these could lead motorists to have a false sense of security.
“People think because of the bridges and bigger game fences that the roads will be clear,” Bingham said. “They think animals can’t possibly be on the road, but they still get through.”
Saying that, Bingham did say that the wildlife crossings have made roads safer for both motorists and animals.
“Deer used to get slaughtered through some of these areas,” he said. “So they’ve helped but they still get through.”
Upon approaching wildlife on a highway, sometimes the best strategy is just to apply the brakes and plow into them, he said.
“Swerving into oncoming traffic is a horrible idea because the last thing you want is a head-on,” he said. “And you don’t want to swerve into a ditch either. And you don’t want to lock your breaks with someone right behind you.”
“Sometimes it’s just better to take the hit if you can’t stop and react fast enough rather than to try to swerve,” he said.
Bingham said there have been 128 collisions with wildlife so far this year in Sublette County. Of those accidents, 73% have involved deer. Moose and antelope account for 20% of the accidents.