On roads and highways, drivers are reminded to keep an eye out for close interactions with wildlife.
Over 6,000 automobile crashes involving deer and elk are reported by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) on average each year. Since many collisions go unreported if there is only little property damage or no injuries to people, the true number of collisions is probably greater.
The collisions regularly result in damaged vehicles that require significant repair expenses, and they frequently result in human injuries or even fatalities. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 24 individuals died in Oregon between 2011 and 2020 as a result of animal-vehicle collisions.
Vehicle collisions involving deer and elk increase in October and November when the animals are most likely to be crossing roadways due to migration and breeding (the “rut”). Rainy days and shorter daylight hours also make it harder for drivers to see, raising the risk of an accident.
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Oregonians are urged to Watch out for Wildlife this time of year and to heed the following advice by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and ODOT:
Driving in locations where there are specific signs warning of the potential presence of wildlife requires caution. There is a reason why these signs are here.
Be cautious when driving around curves or in regions where there is a lot of vegetation along the road. It’s possible that wildlife near the road is hidden.
Keep watching if you spot a single animal. Others might be around.
Stay in your lane and slow down if there are any animals on or near the road. When cars swerve to escape wildlife, they frequently lose control and cause serious collisions.
For smaller species, such as raccoons, the same advice still holds true: try to stay in your lane and do not swerve to avoid them. They pose less of a threat to vehicles than big game animals, so it’s crucial to keep control of your car.
- Constantly buckle your seatbelt. Serious injuries could be caused by even a little contact.
By constructing wildlife crossings, ODFW, ODOT, and partner groups hope to lower the possibility of vehicle-animal collisions. The crossings enable wildlife to migrate over or under a road in a secure manner. According to data, there have been approximately 90% fewer vehicle-animal collisions on Highway 97 near Sunriver since installing wildlife crossings.
The states will get $350 million in competitive grants from Congress’s 2021 bipartisan infrastructure package for wildlife crossings and other mitigation measures. Grant funding for projects will be sought after by ODFW, ODOT, and other partners.
Additionally, Oregon drivers have the option of supporting wildlife by getting a Watch for Wildlife licence plate. Projects that facilitate the movement of wildlife between and within habitat patches will receive funding from the proceeds from the sale of licence plates. The licence plate, which was initially created by the Oregon Wildlife Foundation, is now offered through the DMV.
Roadkill salvagers: Mandatory CWD testing
As the number of wildlife-vehicle accidents increases, so does interest in the ODFW’s roadkill salvage programme. In Oregon, salvaging deer or elk that have been hit by a car is now permitted as of 2019. Roadkill salvagers must complete a free online application, which is available at https://myodfw.com/articles/roadkill-salvage-permits.
5,027 licences have been issued since the programme began in January 2019. In Western Oregon, where there are more vehicles, most black-tailed deer hunting permits have been issued.
Additionally, salvagers must provide any deer and elk heads and antlers to an ODFW office within five days for testing. This is done so that ODFW can examine the animal for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a deadly neurological condition that has been on the agency’s radar since it was discovered in Colorado in the late 1960s.
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Wildlife in Oregon has never shown signs of the illness. However, the need for CWD testing rules has increased as a result of the late-year discovery of the disease in many wild deer and elk in northwest Idaho, roughly 30 miles from the border with Oregon.
Animals with the disease might spread it for years before developing symptoms (which include loss of balance, drooling, emaciation or wasting and eventual death). It is most beneficial to test seemingly healthy deer and elk early in the disease’s progression when they are not exhibiting symptoms in order to catch the illness before an animal has transmitted it over the environment and to other species.
ODFW Wildlife Veterinarian Dr Colin Gillin said, “With the disease now considerably closer to the state’s borders, we just want to remind roadkill salvagers about the obligatory testing requirements.” “ODFW can be more confident that the disease is not in the state the more animals the state tests. If it is found, ODFW can put its response strategy into action to stop the disease’s spread.
It could take up to a month to get test results. A biologist or veterinarian will contact the person who saved the animal immediately if an animal ever tests positive for CWD.
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