Highways, Ferries, and Winter Roads

Bison Safety

Each year, collisions with wildlife, particularly bison, cause vehicle damage and injuries on NWT highways.

The period from August through November (when daylight decreases and snow cover is not yet providing contrast between the animals and the road) is the most dangerous for bison collisions. From dusk until dawn is the most dangerous time of day for bison collisions.

A number of factors have made bison collisions a growing concern. As bison extend their range toward Yellowknife, the risk of collisions increases. Other factors include the increased speed and volume of traffic, the movement and expansion of Mackenzie basin due to flooding in the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary and the straightening, widening and increased maintenance of the highway.

Improving safety comes down to drivers making safe driving decisions.

Where To Expect Bison

Most incidents occur along Highways 3 and 5. Bison can also be found on and along Highway 7. Drivers on Highway 3 must exercise extra caution at all times, particularly from dusk until dawn. The greatest risk of bison collisions is along the Highway 3 from kilometre 21 near Fort Providence to kilometre 70. After kilometre 70, the risk is approximately the same all the way to near Yellowknife.

Reduce Your Risk

Many bison collisions are preventable. There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk.

  • Check highway conditions before departing.
  • Slow down, especially after dusk and at dawn. If you plan on driving on Highways 3, 5, and 7, try to plan your driving during daylight hours only.
  • If you see wildlife, flash your hazard lights to warn drivers behind you.
  • Do not swerve suddenly to avoid animals. This could cause you to lose control of your vehicle or put you in the path of oncoming traffic. If necessary, stop and wait for the animal to clear your path.
  • Remember that most animals travel in herds; where there is one there are often more. Adjust your speed and headlights accordingly.
  • Use your high beams whenever possible to increase your visibility further down the highway.
  • Should you hit an animal, do not approach it. Move to the shoulder of the road and flag down a vehicle to call your nearest Wildlife Officer. Use your hazard lights to warn other traffic. 

For more information on bison safety, read our brochure. For more general information on wood bison, visit the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' website.