What to do if there has been a vehicle accident involving a moose or other large game animal?
- Warn other road users
- Notify the police
- Describe the location
- Mark the accident site
- Don’t mess up the tracks
- Injured game
- Dead game
- Uninjured game
- Collisions with bears and wild boars
- Collisions with domestic animals
Road accidents involving game animals can happen, even to careful drivers. An animal can suddenly appear in front of a car or a motorcycle making a collision unavoidable. If there is an accident, it is important to know what to do. The instructions below are applicable whether you are the driver or the first person to arrive at the scene of an accident.
If there has been a road accident involving a moose/elk, deer, wild boar, bear or other large animal, the first priority is to warn other road users. This way you can help prevent further accidents that could prove to be even more serious than the first one.
Switch on your car’s hazard-warning lights straight away. If possible (and if it is safe to do so), move your car to the side of the road, or to a bus stop or lay-by if there is one nearby.
Warn other road users by placing a red warning triangle on the ground 200-300 meters from the accident site. Place it on that side of the road which has the larger risk of accident. Take care of any injured persons as best as you can.
Road accidents involving wild boars, deer (moose/elk, white-tailed deer, fallow deer, Japanese deer, Finnish forest reindeer or roe deer) or large carnivores (bears, wolves, lynx or wolverines) must always be reported to the police. Call the general emergency number 112. If you are in doubt about the species of the animal, you should always call the police.
When calling the police, describe the accident location as accurately as possible. It is advisable to download a GPS positioning service to your smartphone already in advance.
Pay attention to road signs when driving, observe the terrain and make a mental note of any distinctive landmarks or natural features. If the police are not called directly from the accident site, reset your car’s trip-meter before leaving the site. In this way you will know the exact distance you have driven before reporting the accident.
When reporting the accident to the police, you will be told if you can leave the accident site. If there are no injuries or other special circumstances, the police will then contact the SRVA officials who offer official assistance in matters involving large game animals. They will take control of the situation, e.g. they will deal with any dead or injured animals. In these cases, the police rarely visit the accident site. Dead deer and wild boars belong to the region’s game management association, whereas large carnivores belong to the Finnish state. Taking possession of a dead animal without authorisation is considered a theft.
Once other road users have been warned, injured persons have been treated and the police have been notified, the next step is to clearly mark the accident site. The best way to mark the site is to use the game-animal collision sign. This can be tied to a road sign, tree branch or other suitable object. The sign must be located in such a way that it is easily noticeable from a moving vehicle.
You can print out game-animal collision signs. Fold the sign according to the instructions (in Finnish/Swedish/English/Russian) and make a hole in one corner. Keep the sign in the car along with some elastic band or string, so it can quickly be attached when needed.
The use of the sign significantly speeds up the work of the SRVA officials (If you don’t have a game-animal collision sign, mark the site with some other clearly visible object such as a plastic bag). Secure the sign/object close to the site of the dead animal. If the animal has left the accident scene, place the sign close to the road nearest the point where you last saw the animal. If the animal is dead on the road, try to move it onto the roadside verge.
Marking the site and providing a thorough description of the location assists in the effective investigation of the matter and helps to locate the injured animal. If the animal cannot be traced, it may slowly die of its injuries. Following the correct procedure will minimise the animal’s suffering.
The game-animal collision sign must only be put on the side of the road. Don’t try to mark the animal’s escape route. Try to avoid unnecessary walking and trampling at the accident site. The SRVA officials and the tracking dogs will have an easier job if the tracks remain undisturbed.
An injured game animal can be put down (euthanised) at the accident site. However, the person carrying out this task must know how to properly put down an animal in order not to add to its suffering. If you are not qualified or capable of putting down the animal, call for help or wait for the SRVA officials or the police.
Remember to respect the injured animal. Leave the animal alone and maintain your distance in order not to cause it additional distress. An injured animal is always unpredictable; it may suddenly decide to move. For this reason, you should never approach large animals from the front. You must always be careful when dealing with large animals. They can easily feel threatened or cornered, which can result in an aggressive or other unexpected response.
If the animal dies in the collision, it is important to try to move it onto the roadside regardless of the animal or its size. Park your car safely and drag the animal onto the roadside.
Always call 112 if there is a collision with wild boars, deer or other large game animals. It is impossible for the driver to determine whether the animal was injured or not. Even a small collision can injure the animal; the collision does not necessarily leave marks or traces at the accident site or cause visible damage to the car. A game animal can run very long distances when injured. When a car has collided with a female game animal (e.g. moose/elk cow or deer doe), it is important to report whether or not there were calves or fawns present. The young may stay in the area searching for their mother, potentially causing more accidents.
Collisions with bears and wild boars
If you are involved in a collision with bears or wild boars, please remain in the car. Injured bears or wild boars are highly dangerous to humans. If the car is still functioning, drive on a few hundred metres and mark the spot. Check the car’s trip-meter for the exact distance you drove. Report your exact location in relation to the accident site when notifying the police of the accident. If your car cannot be driven, switch on the hazard-warning lights and call 112 for the police. Leave the car only if absolutely necessary, e.g. if the car is on fire or it has ended up in water.
Collisions with reindeer and domestic animals must be reported to the general emergency number 112. These collisions must also be reported to the owner of the animal in question (if the owner is known or can be easily discovered). It is very important to mark the accident site with a game-animal collision sign or other easily noticeable marker. Secure the sign close to the road, near to where the dead or injured animal is located. If the animal has left the accident scene, place the sign close to the road nearest the point where you last saw the animal.
If you collide with a dog, the dog must not be put down. The decision to put down or euthanise the dog must always be made by a vet. Unnecessary euthanisation of a pet can then be avoided and the owner is spared the results of an unnecessary loss. Even a dog that appears badly injured has a good chance of recovery if it receives veterinary treatment.
- Warn other road users
- Take care of any injured persons
- Call 112 for the police
- Describe the location in sufficient detail
- Mark the collision site