Motorcycle v. animal, not a pretty sight

Motorcycle v. animal, not a pretty sight

Posted by Ben Baker on Jun 20th 2016

Getting an exact number for motorcycle v. animal wrecks every year is not an easy task. A lot of the stats just refer to total wrecks and do not break it down by what the person was driving.

The sad fact is the number of wreck involved animals is going up. That is the worst news for those of on two wheels.

Deer Crash keeps some records of deer-related wrecks that resulted in fatalities, but no info on what kind of wheels the driver had. It also reports fatalities. A lot of deer-crashes probably don’t get reported because if a deer slams into the side of a cage, dents it a little and runs off, there’s no point in calling the police for a report.

Wisconsin does a better job of tracking this stuff. A 2009 report said the driver was killed in only 2 percent of animal wrecks with a cage. That number exploded to 84.9 of bikers dying in animal crashes. It's gone up since then.

Makes sense. A cage has plenty of protection and provided the driver slows down and maintains control, fatalities are very rare. We’re willing to bet that some of the fatalities were caused by drivers over-reacting.

But we bikers are not wrapped in sheet metal. When a deer steps out or more likely runs out into the road and a collision happens, it’s bad news.

Deer are not our only worries. Type “Biker killed after hitting” into Google and the top results are: Deer, Horse, Pothole and Cow in that order. Other critters that lead to biker deaths every year are moose, bear, canines (dogs, wolves, foxes), wild hogs and more.

Some interstates do have fences in place to try to deter critters from getting on the road, but that’s no guarantee. On a recent trip in Canada, I saw the roads had 8-foot fences. Every so often was a “moose gate,” a one-way gate in the fence to let these half-ton bad attitudes on hooves get back into the woods. We also saw a dead bear cub piled up under a guard rail.

Once animals start delivering babies, the little ones will be following her. If you see an obvious female of the species in the road, expect babies. In the case of hogs, if you get close enough and have time, you can see if she is nursing piglets. Female hogs also travel in groups with shoats and other mature females in the sounder. Big males are solo unless they are chasing a female ready to breed.

Many animals like to travel in packs. If you see one, expect more. The big male animals are moving just about all the time during breeding season. If they are not chasing a female, they are looking for one to chase. Breeding season is usually in the fall; both hogs and canines can breed year round.


You have to watch more than road when you are in places where wildlife is common.

At night, slow down.

Pay attention when animal crossing signs are posted. The critters don’t pay attention to the signs, but the signs do mark frequently used critter highways.

Check your light. Get one with plenty of power, especially at night. The more you can see, the better off you are.

Get a good horn. A blast from the horn will sometimes driving the critter away. Do not do this with moose and bison. These bipolar monsters are likely to attack. Moose are actually more dangerous to people in Alaska than bears. Bison, the American Buffalo does not play well with bikers. If you see a moose, stop. Get ready to turn around and run away. Same with big bears, mountain lions and elk.

Loud pipes save lives. Loud pipes might not do much for cage drivers, but ripping those straight pipes when you’re looking at just about anything but a moose or bison is going to send it zooming away.

If you are going to meet by accident, brake hard and stay upright as long as possible. An animal is not a cage. Flesh gives more than steel. On a ride a few years ago, a dog ran in front of me. I saw it coming and was braking, but still hit it. I managed to ride through it and keep upright.

Spread out when riding in a group. No point in one deer taking out several riders at once.

AAA has more tips.