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A deadly summer for moose hanging out near the highway in 1985

Too many moose were hanging out along stretches of the Trans-Canada Highway in northwestern Ontario and ending up dead.

30 moose died in vehicle collisions along Trans-Canada Highway in northwestern Ontario

Why are moose hanging out by the highway?

36 years ago
1:23
In 1985, a growing number of moose seemed to be hanging out near highways -- and at least 30 had ended up dead in a single summer. 1:23

Thirty-five years ago, a troubling trend had emerged along stretches of the Trans-Canada Highway in northwestern Ontario — too many moose were hanging out on the roadside and ending up dead.

"Here's an example in the Vermilion Bay area, a moose that's wandered out of the bush quite close to the Trans-Canada Highway," reporter Ted Weatherhead said, as Midday viewers on Aug. 23, 1985, were shown footage of a moose that had planted itself near the highway's edge.

"This one didn't venture onto the highway, but 30 that did this summer were killed — five of them in a one-week period."

Weatherhead said none of the motorists involved in those highway incidents had been seriously hurt.

Escaping the conditions in the bush?

Biologist Vince Crichton believed the moose hanging out around the Trans-Canada Highway might have headed there to try to escape some of the harsh conditions of the bush. (Midday/CBC Archives)

A Manitoba provincial biologist believed the moose had their reasons for being where they were.

"I think some of the reasons are tied in with insect harassment in the bush," Vince Crichton told CBC News.

"Biting flies, mosquitoes, blackflies and some of the other biting flies that harass the animals, driving them out onto the highway, out of the bush areas, on the highways where perhaps there are not as many as out in the bush areas."

Crichton said moose also liked pools of water that could be found on the highways, which were salty as a result of winter road maintenance.

Weatherhead said moose also faced similar risks beyond the highways that had been so deadly to them that summer, noting three moose had died after being hit by cars on Manitoba's Hecla Island that summer.

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