Police in Linköping in central Sweden have received a spate of calls this week reporting that a number of elk had been sighted dangerously close to the E4 motorway which runs through the town, according to a report in the local Norrköpings Tidningar daily.
“We had up to three units out there, and despite using sirens and lights it unfortunately ended with one of the elks being hit by a truck,” said Jan Fryksén at Linköping police.
While no one was hurt in the accident, aside from the hapless elk, police plan to deploy a team of hunters on Saturday to try to shepherd the animals away from the motorway and back into the safety of the forests.
“It is a question of minimising the risk for accidents,” Fryksén said.
If the hunters are unsuccessful then the police will consider shooting the animals.
“But this is of course a last resort.”
Road accidents involving elk have increased dramatically in recent years, with over 1100 incidents recorded in the first two months of 2012 alone, according to the Älgskadefondsföreningen (literally: The elk damages fund association).
The body shape of the elk makes accidents particularly dangerous for motorists in comparison to other wild animals.
The animal’s long legs mean that the torso of the animal typically connects with a car windscreen on impact and thus pose the greatest danger for a motorist’s head with elks weighing in at anything from 150 to 300 kilogrammes.