Canton Zug, 26.10.2020

Putting the clocks back leads to more accidents involving wild animals

The evening rush hour and the wandering activity of wild animals now take place during the twilight. Priska Müller, Head of the Office for Forestry and Game, explains where the accident hotspots are located in the canton of Zug.

It has been dark an hour earlier again since Sunday: the cosy winter time has begun. People prefer to be at home, and want to get there as quickly as possible. But that's not always the best idea. Because the clock change not only has an impact on our everyday life, but also on wild animals. The rhythm of the day changes and the rush hour for commuters shifts by one hour.

Roe deer and red deer (Rehe and Hirsche) that are also on the move at dusk are not prepared for this. Accidents involving wild animals increase, and the Office for Forestry and Game (Amt für Wald und Wild) of the Canton of Zug have also observed this. "It’s a combination between seasonal changes in the behaviour of wild animals and the change in the clocks," explains Office Head Priska Müller.

A roebuck, as shown here, will often appear unexpectedly out of nowhere.

The animals change their behaviour during this season in any case. The foliage falls from the trees, the corn fields – a popular place for deer – have been threshed, thereby changing the habitat. "The animals start looking for new areas," says Müller. Due to the time change, the rush hour suddenly coincides with the period of greatest activity of the animals. If a busy road happens to pass through a natural axis of movement of the wild animals – so-called ‘wildlife corridors’ – accidents can occur. Priska Müller explains: "The rush hour now coincides with the twilight, and thereby with the greatest wandering activity of the animals, and the probability of accidents increases.

80 to 100 accidents with deer per year
The number of accidents varies greatly every year. Roe deer, foxes and badgers are mainly involved. The number of accidents in the case of roe deer depends on the number of animals. If the number is large, the number of accidents also increases. On average, 80 to 100 roe deer are run over by road traffic in the canton of Zug. Smaller animals are often not reported, and are therefore not included in the statistics, says the office head.

The so-called ‘accident hotspots’ are roads outside the settlement areas, on which it is usually possible to drive at a higher speed and which lead through wildlife habitat. In the canton of Zug, these include the Hegiwaldstrasse in Baar and the Herrenwaldstrasse in Hünenberg in the direction of Maschwanden (Zurich), the Ratenstrasse between Alosen and the cantonal border with Schwyz, and the road between Breitfeld in Risch and Meierskappel (Lucerne).

If you spot wild animals at the side of the road, you should adjust your speed and change to dipped headlights, but do not attempt to dodge the animal under any circumstances, advises the expert. "Evasive manoeuvres can be very dangerous." And: If an animal crosses the road, others will usually follow. If it's already too late and an impact cannot be prevented, you should always stop and contact the gamekeeper via the police, says Priska Müller.

The Office for Forestry and Game maintains a patrol service In the canton of Zug, which can be called up via the Zug police at any time of the day or night. Even the smallest collision with an animal can lead to serious injuries. Accidents involving wild animals are generally subject to notification, and the driver can be reported if he/she leaves the scene of the accident.