On the night of September 14-15, several accidents occurred on Estonian roads where cars struck wild animals, highlighting the importance of greater driver attention as the nights draw in.
"Tonight, and last night, five collisions between a car and a deer, a collision with a badger and one which struck a raccoon dog were reported to 112 (emergency phone number)," the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) announced on its Twitter account.
Raccoon dogs (Estonian: Kärik) are not native to Estonia, but were introduced to western Russia from their homeland of the Russian far east in the 1930s, for fur farming purposes. Escaped species later established wild colonies in Estonia, Finland and much of the rest of northern and eastern Europe. The species is not related to the more familiar North American raccoon, though facially bears a superficial resemblance, hence the name.
Racoon dogs were not the only animals to come to grief on Monday night; elk engaging in apple scrumping were also reported, though not struck by a vehicle.
"In addition, el picking apples in a garden in Haapsalu was reported, and the animals were also seen in Pirita," the report said.
The PPA says it reminds people that since nights rapidly start to get darker earlier in the autumn, drivers should be especially careful on country highways. "Wild animals are also harder to spot in poor visibility, especially when driving fast. In addition, autumn is also mating season for many forest animals, which also makes their behavior often unpredictable," the PPA added.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Roberta Vaino