After recent moose-vehicle collisions near the Maine-New Hampshire border in Oxford County, the Maine Department of Transportation issued a moose advisory for drivers Wednesday.

Spokesman Mark Latti reminded drivers that moose are on the move in May and June, and statistically there are more moose-vehicle crashes in June than any other month of the year.

Over the past two weeks, two separate law enforcement vehicles answering calls in Oxford County struck moose. Maine State Police Sgt. Don Shead Jr. of West Paris encountered a moose on Route 26 in Grafton Township, and two days later Oxford County Sheriff’s Cpl. Justin Brown hit one on Route 16 near Errol, N.H. Neither officer was hurt, but their cruisers were heavily damaged.

The incidents underscore the fact that all drivers need to be aware of moose on the roadways this time of year, Latti said.

“Due to their large size, every moose/vehicle accident has the potential for serious injury,” said Brad Foley, director of MDOT’s safety office. “Drivers need to be alert when driving at night, especially in wooded or marshy areas. You need to slow down, scan the roadsides for moose, and always wear your seat belt.”

In late spring, moose frequent roads for several reasons. After a long winter of eating poor-quality food, their bodies crave the salt that is found along roadsides. Those areas are also the first areas to turn green in the spring, offering tender plant shoots as another source of food for moose. And yearling moose, recently forced away by their mothers as the mothers prepare to give birth to this year’s calves, often travel and find themselves around roads.

Nighttime is also peak time for moose-vehicle collisions. The number of moose crashes peaks between 7 p.m. and midnight, Latti advised.

Moose move more during the evening after it cools from the daytime high temperatures.

Over most any three-year period, approximately 2,000 moose collisions occur in Maine and fatalities occur almost every year.

• Nearly 90 percent of crashes occur between dusk and dawn.

• The state averages nearly three fatalities a year due to moose/car collisions.

• 24 of the 28 fatalities over the past 10 years occurred when it was dark.

There are several steps drivers can take to minimize the chance of being involved in a moose-vehicle collision, Latti said.

• Reduce speed when it is dark.

• Use high beams where it is appropriate.

• Buckle up.

• Search the road ahead to identify potential problems.

With their dark brown color, moose are difficult to see at night, and because of their height, their eyes do not readily reflect oncoming headlights. They also tend to move in groups, so be on the lookout for tall silhouettes along roadsides.


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