Following the recent deaths of two bison calves, Parks Canada is reminding drivers to be alert and drive slow.
Each year, about four to eight animals are struck by vehicles on Highway 5 between Hay River and Fort Smith. August to November is the worst time of year for collisions, probably because it gets darker earlier and roads become slippery, said Sharon Irwin, Wood Buffalo National Park resource management officer.
The two slain young bison were hit during the last week of September. One was killed in the collision. The other stayed alive for at least 48 hours before Parks Canada staff arrived to kill the injured animal.
“It was quite sad,” Irwin said of the two accidents. “They were both calves, probably from the same herd because they were hit less than a kilometre apart, about a week apart.”
To combat the problem, Irwin said the park has set up an electronic billboard on the highway that warns of bison. It’s a good step, Irwin said, though they have to continually move the sign “or people stop noticing it.”
To those driving the highway, Irwin urges motorists to keep their speed down and know that there could be animals on the road.
In the event that a collision does occur, call 9-1-1 for emergencies and the park’s 24/7 line at 867-872-0404 to report injured animals.
Irwin asks that callers make note of the kilometre markers on the road to help park staff respond in a timely manner.