|| WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR:
- If you are driving on a road that bisects the
bottom of a hill and a water source, beware of animal crossings
to and from their drinking and feeding ground.
- If the road is lined with trees, stone walls,
hedges or grass, expect all sorts of birds and small mammals and
deer, who prefer such edge habitat even if it's right beside a
- During spring, summer and early fall months
watch out for frogs and toads who tend to cross paved roads en
masse during and after rain especially at night.
- Each spring and summer millions of baby
wild animals in the US are orphaned and/or orphaned and/or injured
due to car-animal collisions.
- If you see one animal cross the road, particularly
during spring and summer months chances are more will follow.
- If you do hit an adult wild animal during "baby
season" check for babies in the area. Baby opossums may still
be in their mother's pouch.
- Keeping a pet carrier in your car filled with
a blanket and heavy gloves will prepare you for unforeseen rescues.
- If you see an animal on the side
of the road, slow down and beep your horn. Many animals
become accustomed to the drone of traffic noise.
After seeing an animal on or near the
side of the road flash your headlights on and off. Oncoming
cars will surely slow down if they think there is a speed
When driving at night choose to drive
on lit roads whenever possible. If you must drive on unlit
roads use your high beams. Use halogen headlamps.
Fog lights are very helpful in illuminating
the road's periphery. Also, from the reference of a small
mammal that sees a car at a distance it looks as though
they can cross the road beneath the oncoming car's headlights.
Scan both sides of the road, scan edges
of roads, scan especially on the right side of the road,
both the driver and the animal will have less reaction
time. Don't drive on the immediate right shoulder of road,
this is where most roadkills occur.
On warm winter night be especially careful.
Many small nocturnal animals are catnappers, they will
emerge from their dens during brief warm spells for food.
Both nocturnal and diurnal animals are
most active at dawn and dusk.
After heavy rain watch out for frogs who
will cross en masse. Also, watch for both mammals and
birds attracted to the dead frogs and worms on road. Birds
deserve a brake too!
Opossums, coyotes, raccoons and crows
and other scavengers will be attracted to roadkills. Move
dead animals to the side of the road with a stick or shovel
only if you can do so safely.
Don't litter! Many animals are needlessly
killed on roadsides while inspecting food and containers
discarded from cars.
Instead of relying purely on sensory input,
use analytical skills. Look for movements of trees and
grass. Look for horizontal lines and glowing eyes in wooded
areas where tree patterns will create mostly vertical
lines. Pay attention to surrounding such as berry bushes,
fruit and nut bearing trees and water sources.
If you see one animal on or near the
road assume there are more to follow. Especially during
spring and summer months when mothers are traveling with
Opossums will freeze and bare their teeth
at oncoming cars. This is their natural defense mechanism.
When they realize you are not going to "attack" they will
usually move on. A toot of the horn will send them on
their way in a hurry.
DEER: Studies show that vulnerability of adults
to accidents with motor vehicles varies between months. Both
males and female are attracted to de-icing salts spread on
roads during winter months. More than half of all accidents
involving deer occur from September through November, since
bucks are in rut, the females are excited, and the frequent
presence of hunters has them further on the verge of panic.
Five times as many adult males are killed during their rutting
season (October and November) than other months. Adult does,
on the other hand, appear to be more vulnerable in March and
April, when they disperse from winter feeding grounds. During
the late stages of pregnancy in late May and early June, does
tend to consume large amounts of succulent green plants needed
for milk production.
Preferred food is frequently available first in open areas exposed
to the most sunlight, bringing the deer in close proximity to
the edges of roadways.
When one deer crosses the road it is likely that more will
follow. Does typically travel with one or two fawns, who
dart out after their mother even though it is no longer safe
to do so. Deer tend to freeze when caught in the glare of
headlights. They will also follow the headlights if a car
skids while trying to avoid the deer.
RABBITS, CHIPMUNKS, AND SQUIRRELS: These are among the
hardest animals to miss if they get in your path. All 3 species
evade predators primarily through their ability to rapidly
change direction. They will continue to try to "fool" you
even after you stop your car. Rabbits are most plentiful in
lightly wooded areas or alongside brushy ditches, toward the
end of spring through the end of summer. They may be seen
either day or night. At night they freeze in the glare of
headlights. Chipmunks and squirrels take to the road in the
greatest numbers at the end of summer, when windy weather
and the onset of fall litters roadsides with edible nuts.
Chipmunks and squirrels will remain plentiful on roads in
tree lined areas until after the first snowfall. Chipmunks
rarely emerge during winter months. Squirrels and chipmunks
are usually out only during broad daylight.
RACCOONS: These highly intelligent animals usually travel
in family groups, especially during spring and summer months.
Raccoons are catnappers.
BIRDS OF PREY: Many hawks and owls are injured or killed
in early fall. This may be attributed to fatigue due to migration
and/or they may have been focusing their sights on their prey.
If you swerve to avoid a predator swerve in the direction
they came from, they will rarely double back.
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