Animals

Roadkill and Wildlife Collisions on the Central Coast – KION546

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Central Coast residents are no strangers to long commutes and busy roads. Combined with the variety of wildlife species that also live within the region, road killing is a long-standing problem that wildlife advocates, transport experts, and ordinary road users must face.

Tonight on KION News, watch Weather Forecaster Courtney Aitken’s exclusive report on road accidents and wildlife-related collisions.

“One of the reasons so many people live in Monterey is because of our beautiful natural habitat, great scenery, and all the wonderful wildlife,” smiling Beth Bruckhauser said, standing in front of the SPCA Monterey adoption center on a sunny morning. . Brookhouser is the vice president of marketing and communications for the SPCA, who is more familiar with the local wildlife ecosystem and the issues these animals face — including vehicle collisions.

According to Brookhouser, these accidents are especially common at this time of year. “It’s deer mating season now,” she explained. “It’s called ‘estrus’. During mating season, deer are not always looking for where they are headed. They are driven by their hormones.” Brookhouser added that deer are actually not the most common species that cars hit. Instead, the ones that often end up on the side of the road are the smaller critters like rabbits, squirrels, and raccoons. However, deer accidents are more likely to be reported because they are often traumatic events for drivers.

Cindy Burnham of the Monterey County Animal Shelter spoke in detail about the risk of deer-related collisions. “They can go through the windshield,” Burnham said. “Just by its sheer size, it’s definitely a dangerous situation.. If you’re in areas where deer are likely to be running around in a mess, just be vigilant and be prepared.”

As it turns out, the Central Coast contains many areas that are hot spots for wildlife-related incidents. In fact, a dedicated team of researchers at the Center for Road Ecology based at the University of California at Davis have taken the liberty of mapping road killing hotspots across California.

Interstate 68 of Monterey County has particularly high stats when it comes to road fatality reports. In fact, the Monterey County Transportation Agency (TAMC) has a detailed plan in order to address this predicament. The project, titled “State Road 68 Scenic Highway Plan,” is allocating just over $20 million for what it calls “wildlife connectivity improvements.” According to a statement from TAMC CEO Todd Muck, designs are currently underway for five different wildlife crossings. Final designs are due to be completed in 2023, while construction is expected to take place in 2026.

While this large-scale project shows the potential to improve road accident statistics on the Central Coast in the long term, the issue of wildlife-related collisions remains. So what are the possible short-term solutions?

According to the Director of the Center for Road Ecology, Fraser Schilling, temporary road closures, or stretches of road, have proven very beneficial. “that they [animals] They migrate more at night and after it rains.” “So road closures are a very effective method for areas of particular concern, especially if for short periods.” Shilling also stated that practicing safe driving goes a long way, with many people inclined to “driving.” Too fast for the circumstances.”

Resources such as the Road Ecology Center’s Road Killing Hotspot Map can help commuters adequately prepare for what they may encounter on the roads. In addition, the Road Ecology Center team has devised an extremely simplified method for reporting animals – dead or alive – simply from the palm of the hand. The platform is called the California Roadkill Observation System (CROS). Shilling describes it as a “one-click solution to loading road homicide records.” He said, “If you are going to drive on the road, just take out your phone and take a picture, it will load instantly. It adds the location, date and time automatically. [as long as you have location services turned on]. ”

CROS can be accessed at https://roadecology.ucdavis.edu/research/projects/cros.

While the capture and disposal of a road accident is the responsibility of Monterey County Public Works, injured animals that are still alive can be reported to the SPCA. These animals are then captured, treated for their injuries, and rehabilitated whenever possible.

There are some very reliable systems in place when it comes to safety on Central Coast roads, but it ultimately starts with the driver. When in doubt, slow down and always try to stay aware of your fellow four-legged travelers.

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