Driving Safe for Wildlife
Throwing food or waste from car windows or near roads and trails not only attracts scavengers close to the side of the road, but also predators, leaving all vulnerable to vehicle strikes.
Many species will be on the move in late March and early April when hibernating animals wake up drowsy looking for food and mates, and again in late summer and fall when young of the year leave the protection of their caretaker. But at all times of the day and year it’s important to watch for wildlife in the roads.
Watch your speed. If you cannot stop within the visible distance ahead of you, you’re going too fast. That means your speed will have to be variable depending on the road, conditions, and time of day.
Be extra diligent between dusk and dawn. Not only is visibility at its poorest, but most movement from our wild neighbours happens under the safety of darkness. Many birds migrate at night, and nocturnal owls are active at roadsides looking for mice. Many mammals both large and small are active at night, and most lizards and frogs are nocturnal. Interestingly, many species have shown to adopt a more nocturnal lifestyle in order to avoid human conflicts.
Watch the sides of the road for movement and eyeshine. Not all species have reflective corneas like your dog or cat. White-tailed Deer eyes reflect red in low light, and some animals eyes can’t be seen at all, so don’t rely on eyeshine alone to spot them. Watch for shadows or movement on the sides or in the road.
If you see something - tap the horn to alert the animal ahead of you, turn on your hazard lights and tap the brakes to alert drivers behind you.
Don’t swerve, let off the gas and hit the brakes, but keep the vehicle straight to avoid collisions, or hitting the animal as it flees.
If you can't avoid hitting an animal on the road, and if it’s safe to do so, pull over to check its condition. If it’s alive it will need either rehabilitative care, or humane euthanasia. It can take days for an injured animal to succumb to injuries on the side of a road, so if you cannot reach an Authorized Wildlife Custodian or reasonably contain and transport the animal yourself, call the local police detachment; they can dispatch the animal and prevent prolonged suffering.