How to avoid hitting wildlife in New Brunswick, and what to do if it happens

Deer hunting to remain off limits in much of northern New Brunswick

A non-profit environmental group has launched an awareness campaign in New Brunswick this weekend to educate drivers on how to avoid collisions with wildlife.

Sierra Club Canada's collision prevention program, Watch For Wildlife, kicked off Saturday in Fredericton.

The program has been running in Nova Scotia for the last two years and made its way to New Brunswick with the goal of reducing the number of collisions with wildlife.

Kristin Elton, an outreach co-ordinator with the non-profit group, spoke with Shift N.B. host Vanessa Vander Valk about the best ways to avoid hitting an animal.

First, Elton said, drivers need to be "extra aware" at dusk and dawn.

"Those are the times of day when those animals are out and about and when most collisions happen," she said.

'It's safety first for the humans in the car'

Drivers also need to be scanning the road ahead of them, especially when it's dark, in case some shiny eyes are peering back.

"A good sign is if you see two shining eyes staring back at you, you know there's probably an animal on the road," Elton  said.

Keeping with the speed limit and even slowing down in places where animals frequent helps too, she said.

She also advises driver to honk the horn at animals to scare them away.

"Honk your horn a few short times, let them know you're there and if you do see one, brake to slow down."

Drivers need to avoid swerving all over the road and braking too hard and too quickly, when they spot an animal.

That's dangerous to the people in the car as well as other drivers who may be on the road.

"It's safety first for the humans in the car. We don't want to do anything that's going to jeopardize a person's safety," she said.

What to do if you hit an animal

If your vehicle does collide with an animal, and it is not an impact that has caused injuries to the driver or those in the car, Elton recommends thinking about the affected animal.

Put on your hazard lights, pull over and report it to the appropriate provincial government department, RCMP or a local wildlife rescue centre, like the Atlantic Wildlife Institute.

This is particularly helpful if the animal has died and may have young nearby, as the young animals may not be able to live on their own.

"If it has passed away and there's no saving that animal, look around for young. A lot of times, they might be on the side of the road," she said.

"At that point you should definitely be calling a wildlife rescue because without their parent, they're not going to do so well for very long."