Friday, October 22, 2010

Passenger bus collides with bull elk

No injuries, but drivers cautioned

Express Staff Writer

A Mountain Rides passenger bus collided with and killed a six-by-six bull elk early Thursday morning on state Highway 75 near Deer Creek Road, north of Hailey.

Blaine County Sheriff's Deputy Gary Reynolds said there were no injuries, but that was mainly due to the size of the vehicle.

"Fortunately, it was a bus and not a car," Reynolds said.

The elk, he said, would have totaled a small vehicle.

"There was a 48-inch rack on [the elk]," Reynolds said. "It probably would have come through the windshield and killed the driver."

The bus suffered a broken windshield and a dented bike rack.

The accident underscores the need for drivers to slow down and stay alert, said Kelton Hatch, spokesman for the Magic Valley Region of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Deer and elk are migrating toward their winter ranges, and Hatch said the number of collisions will likely increase.

"You just have to be on your toes all the time," he said.

To prevent collisions, drivers should look for what Hatch called an "eye glint," or a tiny flash caused by a car's headlights hitting the eyes of an elk or other ungulate on the shoulder of the road. This glint is often the first sign of a potential collision.

Drivers should use their bright lights as often as possible and slow down in areas with lots of trees or shrubs where ungulates may be hiding. Hatch also urged residents to refrain from feeding the elk.

"We've had people throwing hay on the side of the road because they felt the elk were hungry," he said. "That's the worst thing you can do, feed elk, because it brings them into an area. It's better to have them just forage for themselves."

Katherine Wutz:

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