Warning: Disturbing content. Discretion is advised
Disturbing footage obtained by Global News, and taken from what appears to be the front of a Canadian Pacific Railway train, shows the train running over dozens of antelope as they attempt to run away.
The train’s horn can be heard blaring as it approaches the herd, but the animals continue on their path.
Wildlife expert and Lethbridge College Dean Terry Kowalchuk said an inability to veer off course or jump over barriers is actually a known behaviour of antelope, which renders them helpless in a situation like this.
“Antelope are the fastest land mammals on the continent,” he explained. “Because of that, their instinct is just to outrun things. They’ll run down the railroad track, and if there’s snow on the sides of the railroad track that prevent them from jumping off, their instinct is just to continue to run, run, run, run, run.”
Kowalchuk says antelope are known to gravitate to railroad tracks at this time of year — and suggests rail companies could lower train speeds seasonally to better prevent this kind of incident.
A statement from Canadian Pacific Railway to Global News confirmed the incident occurred on Nov. 15 near Maple Creek, Sask., saying in part:
“CP is saddened by the incident involving a herd of antelope running down the railway tracks and right-of-way that were struck by a moving train…
“When an incident like this occurs, crews are required to report it to the CP Operations Centre. CP then alerts relevant stakeholders, including provincial authorities, about the wildlife strike.
“Crews are not always able to safely stop a train to prevent an incident before it occurs, as it can take a freight train more than a mile to come to a complete stop once the emergency brake is applied.”
CP would not confirm whether a brake was applied in this instance.
Saskatchewan government officials said Monday they had not been informed of the incident until Global News reached out for comment.
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment says it will be reaching out to CP for information.
Officials with CP say an investigation into the incident is ongoing.