Caring for and Healing the Earth

Wild Animals & Birds

Suggestions for Driving with Wildlife in Mind

from a brochure produced by The Humane Society of the United States

Be alert. Look ahead as you drive, scanning the edges of roads for wildlife about to cross. Such driving not only helps to avoid killing wildlife, it also serves as an early warning system for other hazards: oncoming traffic, children at play, bicyclists, and slow-moving vehicles.

Be especially watchful for wildlife at dawn, dusk, and in the first few hours after darkness falls. many wild animals are particularly active at these times.

Edges of roads that are bordered by natural habitat or agricultural fields are places to be especially watchful for wildlife.

Assume that animals you encounter do not know to get out of your way. Young animals, in particular, don't recognize that cars are a threat.

Look for the reflection of your headlights in the eyes of animals near the road as an early warning that you may need to brake for an animal crossing. Lowering your dash lights slightly will increase the likelihood that you'll see this reflection.

Each mid- to late-fall, be especially watchful for deer. This is not only their breeding season, but the start of hunting season; both make them more active.

Remember to watch for other animals following the first one you see; there may be a male in pursuit of a mate or young animals following their mother.

Try to slow down, especially when driving after dark. Many animals become victims of cars driven too fast.


If you do injure an animal...

First, do not put your safety at risk. Unless you can move the animal out of the road in absolute safety, do not attempt to do so.

Use your emergency car lights or emergency road flares to warn oncoming traffic of the injured animal.

Do not approach or attempt to handle an injured deer. Because of the size and strength of deer, any handling poses a potential danger to your safety.

If you need assistance, call the non-emergency number of the local police department and describe the animal's location. The police are aware that an injured animal is a traffic hazard and will arrive as soon as possible. Stay in the area until they arrive.

If you attempt to rescue a small animal yourself, remember that the animal does not know that 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 also helpful if you need to move an injured animal.

Once the animal is out of the road, gently coax or place the animal into a cardboard box, and transport it to a shelter, wildlife rehabilitator, or a receptive local veterinarian. If a delay is necessary, keep the animal in a dark, warm, quiet area to minimize fear and stress.


Fall is prime time to drive with deer in mind...

White-tailed deer are one of the largest and now most familiar wild animals encountered in our communities, attracted by the veritable "salad bars" in our gardens and yards. Even on the trail of a tasty azalea, most deer are careful crossing roads, but not in the fall. With the onset of the "rut" or mating season, bucks chase does or other bucks, paying no attention to where they are going. Hunting season also opens, and guns fire, causing deer to panic and run. And young adult deer disperse to find new territories. Keep these facts in mind as you "steer clear of deer".


For more info, visit the Humane Society of United States website


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