May 17, 2010
Contact: Matthew Dunlap

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap Reminds Motorists to Use Caution as Wildlife Takes to the Road

AUGUSTA?Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, Maine's chief motor vehicle official, reminded motorists that late spring is a time to be especially watchful for wildlife as moose and deer, as well as porcupines, raccoons, and other animals become more active. Motor vehicle collisions with wildlife total many millions of dollars in property damage, personal injury, and death every year on Maine?s roads.

The attached photo, taken from a dashboard camera on a Maine State Police cruiser, illustrates how fast things can go wrong. Trooper Timmy Saucier escaped serious injury, but his cruiser weathered over $4,000 in damage from the collision with a young bull moose.

"No one wants to hit an animal, to be sure," said Dunlap. The best way to avoid these collisions is to not drive beyond your headlights at night, pay attention to the roadway in front of you, and drive at a speed that you can maintain full control of the vehicle in case of an emergency.

Dunlap noted that late spring, when biting flies and other insects drive large animals out of the woods, and the fall, during mating season, are the two times of year when wildlife poses the greatest hazard to the unwary motorist. Striking anything unexpectedly can send a vehicle out of control, he said. But running into a moose at highway speeds is, to a sad degree, not uncommonly fatal for both the moose and the driver and passengers in a vehicle. Deer and bear collisions commonly cause thousands of dollars in damage to a vehicle.

Twilight periods the hour before and after sunrise and sunset are the most hazardous times of day, when headlights are less effective and ambient light reveals little about what's beyond your immediate field of vision. Just being mindful of the possibility of an animal just around the corner gives the driver a powerful advantage in avoiding a crash, said Dunlap.

moose photo

This is what Trooper Timmy Saucier's cruiser camera recorded seconds before his car collided with this moose near Ashland in Aroostook County. The impact threw the animal over the hood and into the windshield of the car, showering Saucier with glass. He was not injured but damage to the cruiser will be more than $4,000. The crash took place Tuesday afternoon about 4 p.m. on Route 163. The one year old bull moose was shot by Saucier to put it out of its misery. A Cumberland County deputy also struck a moose in Casco early Thursday morning. The deputy escaped injury and the moose ran off. The animals are on the move this time of year and motorists need to be on the lookout for them, regardless of where in Maine they are traveling. The timing of Trooper Saucier?s crash was unique, as the majority of moose collisions take place at night.

Photo and caption courtesy of the Maine State Police