ELKS_MOOSE_AND_CARS

ELK, MOOSE, CAMELS, AND CARS

According to a leading Swedish insurance company, traffic accidents involving wild animals have increased substantially in Sweden over the past three years (2018-2020):

139, 000 deer   16, 000 elks     22,000 wild boars   9,000 fallow deer   1,300 red deer

Elks are large animals, roaming the Swedish forests (and crossing roads!) throughout the country. Not quite as big as the Canadian moose but big enough to cause major trouble on the road. A northern elk male (bull) can easily weigh around 550 kilos (1,200 pounds). And crashing into any animal of that size can easily kill you. In 2020, seven people died in elk-related accidents, and many more were injured.

There are casualties in the animal kingdom, too. According to the Teller Report (a source unknown to this author), the number of horses and cows accidentally shot while hunting has become more common: “The Swedish Hunters’ Association believes that the misfires are due to the habit of hunting in the dark and using the so-called heat sight, something that became legal in 2019 – despite warnings about accidents in other countries.”

elk

10 MILLION PEOPLE – 300,000 ELKS

Today, the Swedish elk population is estimated at around 300,000. An impressive number for a country with only 10 million people. To curb the negative effects of a growing elk population on traffic, forestry management and agriculture, some 83,000 elks were felled in Sweden in 2020, slightly up from the previous year.

From September through January, some 270,000 people participate in in the annual elk hunts. The exact months vary, based on regional decisions).

Travelling by car around Sweden, you are bound to notice the abundance of traffic signs reminding you of the ever-present elk hazard. More than one third of accidents occur during the months of September and October.

moose

THE NORTH AMERICAN MOOSE

In Canada, according to Wildlife Roadsharing Resource Center, 474 people were killed in moose-related car accidents during the period 2000-2014. That’s around 30 fatalities per year i.e. more or less the same as Sweden per capita.

The North American moose is bigger than the European elk. They are found in Canada, Alaska, New England and the northern part of New York state. Four subspecies of moose are found in Canada: the Alaska/Yukon moose (Alces alces gigas), the shiras moose (Alces alces shirasi), the western Canada moose (Alces alces andersoni) and the eastern Canada moose (Alces alces americana). They live and thrive in every province and territory except Prince Edward Island.

The word “elk” in North American English typically refers to a completely different species of deer, Cervus canadensis, also known as the wapiti.

camel

EXOTIC PARALLEL

A similar problem is emerging in Saudi Arabia where more than 600 camel-related motor vehicle crashes occur every year. The injury and fatality patterns are reported to be similar as in Scandinavian moose territory. According to a recent report, lessons learned from moose vs motor vehicle crashes are likely to be very relevant in addressing the problems of camel-motor vehicle crashes.

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