For many species of wildlife, this is baby season, and the time when vehicles accidentally injure and orphan millions of creatures. “We live in a community that loves nature and appreciates animals,” says Tanya Hilgendorf, Humane Society of Huron Valley CEO and president. “Whether we are talking about our companion animals or backyard wildlife, animals are a part of who we are, and few want senseless death. The $622,000 of taxpayer money spent on culling hasn’t solved deer/vehicle conditions—worse, it may give people a false sense of security.
To keep both people and animals safe, we share tips that have been proven effective in other communities in implementing better road safety measures and avoiding collisions with wildlife.”
Safe Spring Driving Tips
- Look for the signs. Studies show deer and wildlife crossing signs reduce vehicle collisions when they’re strategically placed (near water or food sources for deer). If there is a crossing area without a sign, tell a local road commission.
- Give them a “brake” and make some room. One of the best ways to avoid any collision with pedestrians, bikers, other vehicles and animals is to slow down. Be patient. Don’t tailgate; keep a safe distance between vehicles to give them some stopping time.
- Stay alert. Put cell phones away and avoid other driving distractions.
- Expect animals in unexpected places. Construction and other outdoor activity put wildlife on the move, so be on the lookout. Animals will often cross roads to get to water, so if there’s a river or lake nearby, be extra alert. Also, be aware that many birds, small mammals, turtles and deer prefer “edge habitat” where natural habitats meet human spaces (a line of trees with hedges or grass), even if it’s near the road.
- Remember dusk and dawn. Those are the two times animals are most active and human drivers are often sleepy.
- See one—watch for more. Many animals, including deer, travel in families. If we see one animal, there are likely more nearby; be sure to stop and wait for others to cross; wait and see.
- Honk the horn. After seeing an animal on the side of the road, slow down and beep the horn in short bursts. Urban wildlife have become accustomed to traffic noise and many may not have good vision, but they can distinguish a vehicle’s horn.
- Flash auto high beams and look for glowing eyes. Even if traveling on lit roads, use high beams when appropriate, scan the road for glowing eyes and flash lights on and off after seeing an animal on or near the side of the road. Not only will this caution others to slow down, but flashing lights are more likely to be seen by animals.
- When it rains, it pours. Look out for turtles and froggy friends; large groups of frogs and toads often cross roads during and just after rain, especially in the evening.
Call 734-661-3512, the Humane Society of Huron Valley’s Wildlife emergency rescue line, for help with any injured wildlife in Washtenaw County. For more information, visit hshv.org.