In 2003, a Transport Canada report estimated that 4 to 8 collisions between large animals and vehicles occur every hour in Canada. These accidents, although rarely resulting in loss of human lives, are highly costly at an estimated $200,000,000 annually. Unfortunately, it is impossible to get a complete picture of this issue because data on the occurrence of these accidents remains extremely incomplete. In fact, it’s estimated that as much as 50% of animal-vehicle collisions go unreported.
In a follow-up report released in 2006, Transport Canada proposed a solution to the problem of underreported wildlife collisions. The report states, “new research points to the need for improved methods for recording animal-vehicle collisions... The literature notes that data collection is often done by two and sometimes three different organizations within States and Provinces,” (Transport Canada 2006). To solve the issue, the report suggested a standardized model similar to a system created by the British Columbia Transport Department known as the The Wildlife Accident Reporting System (WARS).
Since this report was published over 15 years ago, the number of animal-vehicle collisions across Canada has steadily increased, and no national effort to create a standardized method of accident data collection has been developed.
Lack of data surrounding animal-vehicle collisions makes the issue difficult to properly manage. Without the full information on when and where the collisions are happening, it is impossible to know what infrastructure should be improved with mitigation measures such as signage, fencing and crossing structures. This is why Watch for Wildlife program founder, Wanda Baxter and Sierra Club have worked to include the implementation of a National Wildlife Collision Reporting System within the Green Budget Coalition Recommendations for the 2020 federal budget.
Baxter supports the standardized reporting system as an essential step in solving the issue of wildlife-vehicle collisions. She states, "When I began looking into the problem of wildlife-vehicle collisions in Nova Scotia and Canada, it became obvious early on that there was not enough data or an efficient system for collecting wildlife collision data. Canada is not tracking wildlife vehicle collisions adequately, and without this data we can't protect drivers or wildlife from continuing carnage on our roads. We need a national strategy for reducing collisions and collecting the necessary data. This recommendation is an important step toward getting national attention to this issue and the need for federal leadership."