California’s roads are bustling with more than just cars; they’re vital crossing points for the state’s wildlife. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is urging drivers to keep an eye out for our furry and feathered friends. It’s a simple message: share the road.
Wild animals don’t see the difference between their habitat and our highways. This often leads to tragic encounters, with thousands of animals involved in collisions each year. Fraser Shilling from the UC Davis Road Ecology Center lays it out plainly, “In California, it’s estimated that 1 percent of all insurance claims are due to collisions with wildlife.” That’s a lot of accidents that could potentially be avoided.
Scott Gardner, a Senior Environmental Scientist with CDFW, advises, “It’s important for drivers to be aware that wildlife are always around.” His point is straightforward: we need to be more watchful, especially during the times when animals are most active.
As seasons change, animals are on the move. They might be chasing a mate, looking for food, or just trying to get from one place to another. And as our cities grow, these animals are finding themselves in the path of our vehicles more often. It’s not just a rural issue; it’s happening right on the outskirts of our towns and cities.
The CDFW isn’t just telling us to be careful for the sake of the animals. It’s also about our safety. Hitting a large animal like a deer can cause serious accidents. So, when you see those wildlife crossing signs, they’re not just for show. Slow down a bit, keep your eyes peeled, and let’s make the roads safer for everyone.
To help our wildlife out, there’s talk about building bridges and tunnels just for them. These wildlife underpasses and overpasses are like safe passages that can really make a difference. But it’s not something that can happen overnight.
It’s about more than just building new structures; it’s about changing how we think. Our roads cut through forests, deserts, and all sorts of wild places. We need to start seeing these as shared spaces. When we plan new roads or improve the old ones, let’s think about how they affect the animals that were here before us.
Every driver has the power to make a difference. It’s about being aware and driving with care. Shilling reminds us, “The loss of even one animal may not seem like much, but cumulatively, it can have a big effect on the population.” So each time we get behind the wheel, we’re making a choice. We can choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution.
Let’s take the CDFW’s advice to heart. Let’s drive a little slower when we’re in areas where wildlife is likely to be. Let’s keep our eyes open for those sudden dashes across the road. It’s a small change in our habits, but it could mean the world for California’s wildlife.
Together, we can make California’s roads less of a hazard and more of a harmonious place for all of us, animals included. So next time you’re out driving, remember you’re not alone out there. Let’s share the road and keep it safe — for everyone’s sake.