This summer if you visit any natural parks, please drive the speed limit, or even less, to reduce the chances of hitting and killing a wild animal with your vehicle. (Another bonus: you will save gas, because generally mileage is better when not driving too fast).
Most animal accidents occur in low-light situations near sun down or in the early morning. Be especially careful at these times, and drive slower than normal.
Animal collisions and deaths are up in Grand Teton National Park – speeding and lack of driver awareness are the reasons. In 2008 the number of vehicle-animal collisions (98) had gone down, due in part to a public education campaign aimed at informing the public about the danger to themselves and wild animals when they sped.
Unfortunately, in 2009 the number increased to 127, and then again to 162 last year. Rangers are starting another public awareness campaign. There are plenty of sharp curves on the roads in Grand Teton, and other National Parks, and if you are driving swiftly, you may come upon a wild animal like without any warning.
Animal collisions don’t just injure and kill animals, they also cause expensive damage to vehicles and put people in situations that risk injury and death. A public information specialist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department hit an elk in Grand Tetons Park, killing the animal and causing $2,000 in damage to his truck. He said, “It really ruins your day, for sure. It’s a no-win situation. At a minimum, the animal is injured and you have a hefty payment to fix your car. At worst, you are going to kill an animal or you can have a human fatality.” (Source: Billingsgazette.com)
In Yosemite last year, twenty-eight bears were hit by cars, and many other animals such as deer and squirrels. In one area of South Dakota 52 mountain lions were killed by vehicle collisions from 1998-2009. On a highway connecting Banff and Jasper National Parks 115 people were caught speeding in a single weekend. Some were traveling 37 mph over the speed limit.
When you are on vacation, be sure to pay attention to your speed and location near animal crossings or on roads through wildlife habitat.
Image Credit: National Park Service