Wildlife causing car accidents is on the rise and it’s not cheap

When the black bear crossed the road in front of my car when I was on my way to Washington, D.C. this summer, I was astounded. He made his ambling dash across the six-lane highway near Cumberland, Maryland. I may have still been in West Virgina, but I do know I saw a bear.

Animals crossing roads is happening more and more frequently which is increasing the likelihood of hitting one. One reason is because of an increase of people driving on rural roads. As people move out of cities into suburbs or further out than that, they are on these roads more.

My dad who lives on a mountain in upstate New York about 10 miles out of New Paltz has met two deer at least. His were more grazes, but there still was an impressive amount of damage. Every time I visit, when I’m driving, particularly at night, I pay close attention to any glint of eyes I may see that could warn me. The statistics of animals meeting up with cars or vice versa highlights why you might see so many carcasses on the side of the road in some places.

In Montana there has been such a problem lately that the state is looking for ways to use methods that have cut down on car and animal collisions in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. Building overpasses and underpasses for animals to cross the highway safely has helped cut down accidents by at least 80 %.

The problem with cars and animals meeting, is not just the fact the animals get killed, but people don’t so so well either. In the past year, 200 folks have died in car meets animal crashes. Then there is the cost of fixing a car which can range from $8,000 to $30,000. The most recent statistics cite 300,000 accidents a year. In Pennsylvania, the state with the highest incidences, there about 97,000 per year. Most involve deer.

A naturalist at Blacklick Woods, one of Columbus’s metroparks told me two weeks ago that black bear are on the move from West Virginia and are ending up in Ohio. Ohio already has a high deer population. The moral of this story is, when you see an animal crossing sign, wherever you are, pay attention. The sign isn’t kidding. [via New York Times]

The photo by saiynte7777 and posted on Flickr was taken when he was on his way to Alaska. The bear originally was just on the side of the road and the car was stopped.