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Wildlife Road Collisions Jump This Time of Year - How to Avoid Them | Oregon Coast Beach Connection

Published 10/30/23 at 7:33 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Seaside, Oregon) – Now is the time of year when run-ins with large beasties on the roads around Oregon become a little more frequent – namely vehicular collisions with them. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is getting out the message that deer and elk are in their peak migration season in October and November, making them more likely to roam across the roads and get hit by motorists. (Above: elk at Cannon Beach's Ecola State Park / Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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It happens all over wilderness and rural areas of the state, including the Oregon Coast Range and Highway 101 along the coastline, as that's where Roosevelt Elk make their home.

Also see Cautions, Advice for Watching Elk on Oregon Coast

ODFW said less daylight hours and an increase in rainy weather begin to reduce visibility for drivers. In most years, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) ends up removing some 6,000 carcasses of deer alone that were struck by vehicles. Scores of others die on roads maintained by other districts.

Sadly, these migratory behaviors are deeply ingrained in many species.

“[ODFW] research with GPS-collars shows mule deer faithfully follow their migratory route, no matter how many roads or other obstacles get put in the way,” ODFW said. “They often have no choice but to cross roads to get to food and shelter.”

Along the north Oregon coast, Roosevelt elk are often seen in areas between Seaside and Cannon Beach lounging on the hills overlooking the highway, where they cause traffic to stop just so drivers can get a good picture. However, in the Coast Range and just north of Seaside, that's where the collision issues really come into play.

ODFW is urging drivers to be on the alert for wildlife crossing public roadways and highways such as these.

How can you avoid hitting one of these creatures?

ODFW said there are known animal crossing areas, and these are marked by signs (the yellow signs indicating “elk” or “deer crossing.”) Be alert when you see one.

Pay a little more attention in road areas with denser vegetation and / or curves.

“Wildlife near the road may be hard to see,“ ODFW said.

If you see one animal there are likely others. Keep an eye out for more.

When you encounter one near or on the road, slow down and remain in your lane. Swerving is the primary cause of many drivers who loose control and crash.

Courtesy ODFW

“Always wear your seat belt. Even a minor collision could result in serious injuries,” ODFW said.

Two of the highest animal collision hotspots in the state are between Seaside and Warrenton, and just outside of Bandon on the south Oregon coast.

The installation of animal undercrossings in various parts of the state have helped keep them off the roadways. The latest is in NE Oregon near Gilchrist: the first of the crossings to be built and paid for by a combination of various agencies and non-profits.

“Oregon legislature has dedicated funds that support wildlife passage,” ODFW said. “Oregon Hunters Association, Oregon Wildlife Foundation, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and many others have also been key partners in directly supporting wildlife passage projects. Projects like this wouldn’t be possible without support from partners across the state.”

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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