Thursday, June 27, 2013

Watch out for Wildlife!

Summer is a wonderful time to be in the Green Mountains: trees have blossomed, flowers have bloomed, and the area wildlife has come out of hiding!

Unfortunately, wildlife and modern life don’t always integrate as well as we’d like. Merging nature with motor vehicle traffic can be especially troubling, and it’s not uncommon for fellow animal lovers to express concern over the well being of wildlife on the road.

While HSCC is not licensed to handle wildlife, our Humane Investigator, JoAnn Nichols, runs her own wildlife exclusion business and has shared some advice on what to do when confronted with wildlife on the road.



Who To Call

Stopping to check on an injured animal can put you at risk of getting hit and is highly inadvisable. It's best to report wildlife incidents to the appropriate local agency.

If a “game” animal, such as a turkey, bear or deer is on the road--alive, injured or deceased--it's best to call the fish and wildlife department. For more common types of wildlife such as raccoons, skunks and opossums, call your local town and roads office. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department also has a helpful list of licensed wildlife rehabbers on their website.

In the event of a domestic animal found injured by the road, calling your local animal control officer (or, absent an ACO, the police department) or public works office is the way to go. If you are able to safely rescue an injured domestic animal, Burlington Emergency Veterinary Specialists in Williston offers 24-hour emergency services 7 days a week. They'll also care for injured strays free of charge (please help by donating to their stray fund!).


What to Say

When reporting wildlife on the road, it will help officials understand your concerns if you address it as a public safety issue. Injured and deceased animals on the roadways may cause drivers to swerve or stop suddenly. Even if an animal is on the shoulder and out of the way, it may attract more wildlife--such as crows and scavenger rodents--to converge near traffic. Some animals may have young searching for them, or parents may come searching for babies that have been hit, and cause an accident or get hit as well.



It can be frustrating to see wildlife and traffic at odds, but there are solutions! Here are some great ideas enacted in other areas of the country:

In Texas and Colorado an organization called Animal Help Now provides immediate information on the nearest appropriate resource for animals injured on the road.

Scientific American recently published an article regarding the threat of vehicular traffic to wildlife populations. In one example concerning turtle migration in Florida, a PhD student was able to persuade the local transportation department to provide nylon fencing along the roadways, saving almost 5,000 turtles by forcing them away from high-traffic areas.

The Federal Highway Administration website has information on how traffic impacts wildlife and the ways in which specially-designed wildlife crossing structures such as underground tunnels are helping to preserve the habitats and livelihoods of the animals we share our roads with.

Badger crossing tunnel
Bear crossing tunnel

What solutions would you like to see enacted in Vermont? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

by Janine Fleri, HSCC's social media intern extraordinaire

No comments: