Increased Mowing of Highway Ditches

Res #: 29-12M
Number: 29
Year: 2012
Midterm: Yes
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No

WHEREAS in 2011 the motoring public suffered almost 16,000 wildlife collisions, including two fatal accidents and Saskatchewan Government Insurance Auto Fund paid out more than $47 million dollars in wildlife claims in 2011; and

WHEREAS the grass growing on the shoulders of the highways limits the vision of the motoring public to the wildlife that may be in the ditches;

BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby the Minister of Highways and Infrastructure and Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance to begin doing one 4 metre cutting of grass on the shoulders of all highways in Saskatchewan to be completed prior to July 1 and another 8 metre cut to be completed by October 31 in each year to prevent wildlife and human pain, suffering and death.

Response from Honourable Don McMorris, Minister of Highways and Infrastructure:

The Ministry conducted additional mowing in 2009 as part of a pilot study. The evaluation study indicated that there was no quantifiable reduction in wildlife collisions due to extra mowing (no conclusive wildlife collision rate improvement in 2009 as compared to the period from 2003 to 2008). The study results were also shared with Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI).

Wildlife collisions are a random occurrence and the hit increases in hunting season due to increased movement of the deer and moose populations. Due to the random nature of animal hits, it would be difficult to get SGI onboard to fund additional mowing if the reduction in animal collisions is inconclusive. Traffic volumes have increased on highways in the last several years which has also increased the probability of wildlife collisions. Review of collision data has indicated that the national highway system has experienced higher number of animal collisions due to higher traffic volumes. The Ministry already cuts full right-of-way on four lane divided highways.

The Ministry has searched for studies conducted on this subject that indicates mowing reduces wildlife collisions but have not found any current information to support this. The Ministry would be happy to review any documents SARM has which correlates that extended cuts or full right of way cuts reduces the probability of wildlife collisions.