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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 18, 2006
Contact: Doug Dunbar
207-626-8404

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap Urges Motorists to
Be On the Lookout for Wildlife on Maine's Roadways

AUGUSTA, MAINE—Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap issued a reminder to motorists on Wednesday that with twilight falling earlier as the autumn progresses and with cooler weather settling in, now is the time to be especially vigilant in watching for wildlife lingering in Maine’s roadways.

“As winter approaches, many large animals are moving about seeking food and mates. At this time of year, wildlife is most active at dawn and dusk, when animals are most difficult to see from a motor vehicle,” Dunlap commented. He added that when people are tired after a long day at work, the drive home could be made more hazardous by difficult weather conditions and poor lighting. “You may not see a deer or moose until you are right on top of it,” he said, adding, “Significant property damage and injury can result in a collision with a large animal.”

Each year, more than 5,000 crashes are reported involving wildlife. Crashes with moose are especially dangerous, with moose often standing over seven feet tall at the shoulder. Collisions with moose often result in the moose coming through the windshield of an automobile.

“Drivers should slow down in low light conditions,” Dunlap said. “They should also be mindful of road signs indicating deer and moose crossings. These are located in areas that have a history of crashes involving wildlife,” he added.

Dunlap emphasized that animals in the road can behave unpredictably. “Everyone has seen a squirrel run back and forth in the middle of a road. Deer, bear and moose may do something similar,” he said. Dunlap further recounted a near miss he had with an animal at dusk one evening. “I thought I saw a family of raccoons crossing the road.  I slowed quickly enough to avoid hitting a large bull moose. What I thought were raccoons were actually the hooves of the moose.”

The Department of the Secretary of State produced a video, “Hidden Hazards”, in cooperation with the Maine Department of Transportation and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in recent years. For a copy of this video, Secretary Dunlap urged the public to contact his office at 626-8400 or at sos.office@maine.gov for that and other information about this vital highway safety issues.