Fenced in or fenced out?

The first time you drive or travel on a long distance bus in Sweden, you will perhaps wonder about the high fences that border most major roads - mile after mile. The fences may not make a very welcoming impression, but they aren't there to keep you out of the forests. Their purpose is simply to keep moose (or elk, as these animals are more commonly known as in Europe) and other wild animals off the road.

Every year, around 40.000 road accidents involving wild animals occur in Sweden, and about 800 people are injured. Fatal accidents mostly happen when a moose is hit by a car while crossing the road. A big moose may weigh over 500 kg, and at higher speed the impact can be disastrous.

The risk of accidents is greatest at dawn or dusk, when the animals are most active. There is also an increased risk during the moose-hunt season in autumn. Then the animals, not surprisingly, can get stressed and come running out in the road in a panic. During May and June, one-year old moose are running around in a rather confused and lost state after being chased off by their mothers, who have new calves to take care of.

The high fences reduce the risk of collisions with larger wild animals on major roads, but every now and then moose and deer still manage to get out onto the road, and especially when driving along smaller roads without fences it's a good idea to be extra alert.