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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. 

A herd of bison on Highway 5. Two calves have been killed recently as a result of collisions with vehicles.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Gedling.

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. 

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Natalie Pressman

Natalie is a graduate of Carleton University’s journalism program. She has since held contracts working with an NGO in Vietnam and with Journalists for Human Rights in Iskatewizaagegan #39 Independent...

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  1. There is the same problem with the bison on the Alaska highway near the Liard river hot springs the government trans planted these animals there and let them roam the high ways if I was a farmer and let my cows graze along the highway I could be sued the government argues that these are wild animals but in actuality the government put them there so therefore that makes them the governments live stock I have asked for the animals to have a reflective ear tag put on there ear so that the motoring public can see these animals at night and was told that the government thinks 10 vehicle collisions a year with there bison is acceptable to to them so if you hit one of these bison in the night start suing the federal government for negligence they know there is a problem with vehicle collisions with them but have taken no action to remedy the situation