Two new ‘Moose Crossing’ signs along 30th Avenue in Red Deer are reminders we sometimes share our streets with one of North America’s largest, potentially most dangerous animals.
Moose are occasionally spotted resting on neighbourhood lawns in the city and sauntering across school yards — so why wouldn’t they also cross into traffic?
“They are big, and they can,” summarized Todd Nivens, executive-director of the Waskasoo Environmental Education Society.
The City of Red Deer recently added moose crossing signs along two stretches of 30th Avenue — between 55th Street (Highway 11 East) and Crossley Street and Timothy Drive, and another north of 67th Street.
The city considers installing these kinds of signs after being alerted by Red Deerians who have observed a lot of animal crossings at certain spots.
“When we receive these requests, we review traffic collision history and (whether) there is a creek or other natural area nearby that may attract wildlife,” said Niki Burkinshaw, traffic engineer for the City of Red Deer.
If several wildlife collisions have occured at specific locations, the new wildlife crossing signs are installed to give motorists a heads-up, Burkinshaw added.
Nivens cautions local drivers to be especially watchful over the next month or two: Fall is the most dangerous time for moose-motorist collisions as the antler-ed ungulates will be gathering for mating season and their annual rut.
Drivers who accidentally hit a deer can damage their vehicles, as well as killing the deer, but slamming into a 1,600 pound moose is a different story. “Hitting a moose potentially kills people in the car,” he added.
A vehicle will collapse the legs of the large animal, propelling its body onto the passenger portion of the car or truck, like a massive projectile.
There’s no trick to surviving such an encounter; Nivens said his best advice is to try to avoid hitting moose altogether.
Moose wander Central Alberta at will as they have no real predators in this area. Puny coyotes are not a significant threat to this largest member of the New World deer family, said Nivens, who often sees moose around the Kerry Wood Nature Centre.
He believes they enter the city by following the river valley, creek banks, or the “fingers of forest” that blend into Red Deer’s extensive parks system.
While the animals look slow and docile as they munch on leaves and berries, looks can be deceiving. Humans can agitate these already unpredictable animals, so Nivens believes it’s always best to give moose a wide berth — or, if possible, to put a tree between you and the animal to avoid being charged.
“They can move very fast if they feel threatened.”
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