More than 13,000 moose and deer were killed on Norwegian roads and railways last year, and the numbers are rising in line with snow depths this winter. The collisions that can also be fatal for motorists may lead to lower speed limits.
Norwegian Broadcsting (NRK) reported that in the small community of Sør-Odal, east of Hamar and with just 8,000 residents, local emergency crews rushed out to the scenes of 136 collisions with deer and 35 with moose. High fences along motorways generally keep wild animals off the roads, but most two-lane roads lack fences both because of the expense involved and to help protect natural wildlife migration routes.
Warning signs, blinking lights, sensors and other attempts to keep wildlife off the road and reduce collisions have had little effect. Now officials think lower and enforced speed limits are needed, and a proposal for such is included in an upcoming revision of the national plan for traffic safety.
“We want to lower speed limits from 80kph (50mph) to 60kph in periods where there’s great danger of moose and deer on the roads,” Henrik Wildenschild of the state highway department (Statens vegvesen) told NRK. That’s often in the winter, when deep snow makes plowed roads more attractive for roaming and hungry animals also weakened by trouble finding food.
It hasn’t been decided where such reductions would be made, but most of the recent wildlife collisions have occurred in the counties of Innlandet (the former Hedmark and Oppland regions of eastern Norway) and Viken, which extends from the mountains of Buskerud, around Oslo and south to the Swedish border.