Friday, October 29, 2010

Driving with Wildlife in Mind

It's that time of the year again. The days are getting shorter, the sun is setting earlier, and wildlife is out and about.
Scan the road as you drive, watching the edges for wildlife about to cross. Not only will this help you to avoid harming or killing wildlife, but it will also make you more aware of other hazards such as bicyclists, children at play, and slowly moving vehicles.
Be alert!
Be especially watchful for wildlife at dawn, dusk, and in the first few hours after darkness falls. Many species of wildlife are most active at these times.
Edges of roads that border agricultural fields or natural habitats are places to be particularly watchful for wildlife.
Assume that animals do not know to get out of your way. Young animals, in particular, do not recognize cars as a threat.
Lower your dashboard lights slightly. You'll be more likely to see your headlights reflected in the eyes of animals in time to brake.
Every apple core, french fry, and smelly sandwich wrapper tossed out of a car attracts wildlife to roadsides—often with fatal results. Never throw litter from your car.
Remember that where there is one animal crossing, there may be more, young animals following their mother or male animals pursuing a mate.
Try to slow down, especially after dark. Many animals needlessly become victims simply because people drive too fast to avoid hitting them. Speed poses a risk to human safety as well.

- What to do if you injure an animal.
Do not put your own safety at risk. Unless you can move the animal from the road in absolute safety, do not attempt to do so. Use your hazard lights or emergency road flares to warn oncoming traffic of the injured animal. Never attempt to handle a large animal, like a deer, or one that could give a serious bite, like a raccoon.
Call someone with the proper training and equipment. When you need assistance, call the non-emergency number of the local police department (it's a good idea to have this number programmed into your cell phone, if you have one) and describe the animal's location. Emphasize that the injured animal is a traffic hazard to help ensure that someone will come quickly. Stay in the area until help arrives.
If you try to rescue a small animal yourself, remember that the animal doesn't know you are trying to help and may bite or scratch in self-defense. Use heavy gloves to protect yourself or avoid direct handling. An old towel is helpful if you need to move an injured animal. Gently coax or place the animal into a cardboard box and transport him/her to a shelter, wildlife rehabilitator, or a receptive veterinarian. If there is a delay, keep the animal in a dark, warm, quiet place to minimize fear and stress.
If you accidentally kill an animal, try to move the animal off the road—providing you can do so in complete safety. Otherwise, report the location of the animal's body to the local police department, and it will arrange for it to be removed. This will prevent scavengers from being attracted onto the road and eliminate a potential traffic hazard.

~The Humane Society of the United States


  1. Solid advice. It's definitely important to be aware of these things this time of year. Thank you for putting thought into this.

  2. Very helpful post... thank you!