Finnish motorists warned as heat drives thirsty moose onto roads

By Agence France-Presse

Nordic countries may have escaped the worst of Europe's latest heatwave, but drivers in Finland face another danger as moose in search of a drink wander into traffic.

Police say inexperienced young calves born last year are particularly at risk (AFP) Police say inexperienced young calves born last year are particularly at risk (AFP)

Police issued a warning to motorists after a record number of reports of drivers crashing into moose in the past week, as the thirsty animals seek new sources of water after hot weather caused their usual ponds and drinking places to dry up.

"This particular time of the year it is quite warm. This makes the animals move further for water, and they may crossroads," Captain Joonas Tikka told AFP on Friday.

Young calves born last year are, particularly at risk.

"Calves grow independent this time of year, and as they are 'inexperienced', they may act unexpectedly," Tikka said.

In the last week, police in the country's southwest has received 140 reports of road accidents involving a moose, which equates to around one every hour.

"I can't remember a single other July where we've had this many," Inspector Marko Luotonen of Southwest Finland Police told national broadcaster Yle.

Last year 2,946 traffic accidents involving an animal were recorded across the whole country.

Police also warned the public to stay away from moose and other animals swimming in lakes and to only take photos or videos from a safe distance.

Finland is home to an estimated 100,000 moose or elk as the animals are also known. They can grow to as long as three meters, and weigh 600 kilograms (about 1300 pounds), meaning that a collision with a car can be extremely serious for both the animal and those in the vehicle.