Watch out! Bison season has begun

News Releases

YELLOWKNIFE (August 15, 2012) -- Drive with extra caution: that's the message for drivers on highways 3, 5, and 7 from mid-August until mid-December.  The additional caution is required because more than 75% of bison collisions in the Northwest Territories occur during this four-month period. 

"Watching for bison, bears, moose, wolves, fox, and other animals on NWT roads is a year-round requirement," says Transportation Minister David Ramsay. "Drivers in bison country must be particularly cautious at this time of the year because of the much higher rate of collisions. We can all do more to avoid collisions and injuries on our roads and trails."

Each year, an average of 20 collisions with bison are reported to police in the Northwest Territories, and on average, two people are injured each year. The last fatality was in 2009, when a passenger who was not wearing a seat belt was involved in a bison collision on Highway 3.

Drive Alive, the road and trail safety information program of the Government of Northwest Territories, reminds drivers that collisions with bison and other animals are avoidable if you take three steps to protect yourself and your passengers:

1.    Watch for movement on the highway and in the right-of-way. Ask your passengers to help you watch out for bison and other animals.

2.    Drive at a speed appropriate for road and weather conditions. Reduce speed at dusk and during the night, particularly on Highway 3.

3.    Whenever possible, drive on highways 3, 5, and 7 during daylight hours only, before dusk.

If you are involved in a bison collision, your best chance to avoid injuries or death is to ensure everyone in your vehicle is securely buckled up. Drivers should carry a satellite phone or SPOT locater device whenever they drive between NWT communities.

A third of all bison collisions on Highway 3 occur on the Yellowknife side of Frank's Channel Bridge. Half of all collisions occur on each side of km. 165, the approximate mid-point of the highway. This means that the entire highway from the Mackenzie River to the outskirts of Yellowknife is bison country, and extra caution must be exercised throughout the length of the highway.

Similarly, drivers on Highways 5 and 7 must be aware of the potential of bison on and near the highway at all times.

For more information, visit the Department of Transportation website or contact:

Earl Blacklock
Manager, Public Affairs and Communications
Manager responsible for Drive Alive
Department of Transportation
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: 867-873-7712
Cell: 867-445-3494