Over the course of nearly thirty years operating automobiles, I have moved off of roadways and roadsides far too many dead animals (coyote, hawk, owl, squirrel, snake, raccoon, opossum, skunk, deer, jackrabbit…the list goes on), and on January 16 in Death Valley National Park, I added a new species to the list. Not far from the parking lot for the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, I found a kit fox lying just beside the road. I was immediately angered and saddened – this doesn’t have to happen. This poor fox was virtually undamaged, although its bowels were slightly protruding and it appeared to have a broken back leg. There was very little blood. Such a beautiful, soft, and delicate creature, not bigger than most of my cats. I gently laid it to rest beneath a creosote bush and wished it well. My sleep was not good that night.
Speed kills! Please, when in wildlife country, no matter the posted speed limit, slow down! Do not assume that animals will make the right choice as your vehicle or headlights move towards them – they will not. Be observant for those sets of eyes that catch the glint of your headlights; automatically slow down when you see them. Project and imagine what the guilt will feel like after you’ve hit an animal. Imagine the young animals that could be left behind to suffer and starve after their provider has been killed. Let these thoughts guide your safer, more observant, and slower driving. Wildlife does not have to die beneath our wheels.
Disclosure: I’ve done a significant amount of driving where wildlife lives, often during the wee, dark hours. In my thirty years, I’ve hit only one creature (a kangaroo rat), and it was one creature too many. However, I have had many animals in my headlights or on the roadway before my vehicle, but they received the attention and berth they needed to survive.
Please slow down and save a life.
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