Statistics show that a full moon really can "bring out the beast," at least in Norway, where the most collisions between cars and moose occur when the moon is full and the weather is cold.
Norway's state statistics bureau SSB reports that 1,321 moose were killed in traffic accidents during the past year. Most of them occurred in the winter: Statistics reveal three times as many collisions between moose and vehicles in January than in the summer.
Torstein Storaas of Hedmark College, one of Norway's foremost experts on moose, told newspaper Aftenposten that it's not just because it's easier for the moose to move alongside open roads when snow is lying deep in the forest.
It's also, Storaas said, because the moose prefer to eat the twigs and branches of pine and low shrubbery during the winter. "Therefore they need to emerge from the deep fir- and spruce forest," he said. "Unfortunately many claim they also are attracted by the salt spread on highways by road crews."
The moose is also most active during a full moon, although it's not entirely clear why. Moose tend to wander more than usual during a full moon, and not just because the moonlight guides their way. Studies show they're just as active when cloud cover blocks out the moon.
Motorists are thus advised to use extra caution during full moon periods in the wintertime. Subfreezing temperatures, snow in the forest and dry air draw the moose towards roadways, and that's when driving is dangerous.
Many drivers involved in collisions with moose claim the animal suddenly darted across the road, and they didn't have a chance to brake in time. Storaas said that's because the moose are easily stressed by the noise of traffic and headlights, making them unpredictable. They also have trouble moving on hard, icy roads and want to get across as quickly as possible.
Collisions between cars and moose are generally more serious than collisions with other animals, because the moose are so large. They're generally hit in the legs, and then land with full force in the car's passenger compartment.
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