In Big Sky, we share our big backyard with an abundance of wildlife. Elk, bison, moose, deer, pronghorns, lions, grizzly bears, black bears, bighorn sheep, coyotes, wolves, raccoons, skunks, rabbits, squirrels, and even birds of prey are spotted in and around our mountain town all of the time. These animals are lucky that their habitat is relatively road free, but when these animals are traveling from point A to point B, sometimes they have to cross a road. If you see this happen, please give wildlife a brake in Big Sky Country.

When you drive around Big Sky Country long enough, you're bound to see a wide variety of animals that wander into the road. Defensive driving is a must when you're driving in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem- or anywhere else for that matter. Wildlife collisions are possible all year long. While some accidents are unavoidable, it's your job to drive defensively and avoid hitting animals. A collision can be incredibly dangerous to both the animals and passengers in the car.

Here are a handful of eye-opening stats directly from about wildlife collisions:

Grizzly with Cubs | Pixabay Image
Grizzly with Cubs | Pixabay Image

  • A collision with some form of wildlife occurs, on average, every 39 minutes.
  • 1 out of every 17 car collisions involves wandering wildlife.
  • 89% of all wildlife collisions occur on roads with 2 lanes.
  • 84% of all wildlife collisions occur in good weather on dry roads.
  • The average repair cost of a car-deer collision is $2,800.
  • Approximately 200 motorists die in the United States each year from car-wildlife collisions.

Whether you're driving in the Gallatin Canyon for an early morning fly fishing session, cruising up the spur road for a day of downhill biking at Big Sky Resort, or heading south through Yellowstone National Park for a snow coach tour, you need to be on full animal alert at all times. Please slow down and give wildlife a brake in Big Sky Country. It can save your life and the animal's life. Plus, it can prevent costly damage to your vehicle.

Animal-car collisions are scary things that everyone wants to avoid. Here are a few defensive driving tips that can help you give wildlife a brake in Big Sky Country:

Mule Deer | Pixabay Image
Mule Deer | Pixabay Image

  • Follow the speed limit and read the warning signs.
  • Constantly scan the sides of the roads while driving.
  • Remember that dusk and dawn are prime time for animals to be active.
  • Drive with your bright lights on to help spot animals on the road, but be sure to dim them for oncoming traffic!
  • Wear your seatbelt.
  • Give extra space on snowy and/or icy roads.
  • Never litter as it can attract animals to the roadway.
  • If you see an animal:
    • Slow down and honk your horn.
    • Flash your lights to alert oncoming traffic of the potential hazard.
    • Often when you spot one animal, there will be other animals in the vicinity.

Drive safely and drive defensively to avoid hitting animals. If there is an unavoidable collision, hopefully you and your passengers are safe. Remember that your safety is the number one priority. A large animal that is injured can be incredibly dangerous. Call 911 and alert the authorities to any injured animals or roadkills. If necessary stay in your car and use flashing lights or flares to alert other drivers of the incident.

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Protect yourself and break for wildlife to reduce the hazards of driving in Big Sky Country. Being defensive behind the wheel can save your life and an animal's life. We want everyone to be safe when they visit Big Sky.

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