ינואר 19, 2017

The tragedy of 'roadkill' close up, and why tracking dead animals on roads is necessary.

Animals, birds, frogs, snakes, turtles ... wildlife is hit and injured or killed on our roads every day. From the distance and speed of a car, the tragedy of roadkill barely registers. Close up, it is an entirely different thing. The death, often not as instant as we might hope, is imprinted on faces of creatures, their mangled positions, the particular tragedy of young animals mashed into pavement.

The last photo I took was of a racoon on July 25th, 2016 dead on the centre line near my house, on a stretch of road where raccoons are killed regularly. It was a grotesque image, one of two animals travelling together, feet apart from each other, both dead. One of the animals heads was literally mashed flat onto the pavement. The insensitivity of driving (and drivers, i.e. us) is vivid at such close range. Most people never look close enough to witness the pain that registers on faces that were hit as they tried to run fast enough to get across a road. And we don't look on purpose.

Close up, the tragedy of roadkill is impossible to ignore or blot out. There is something that gnaws at the brain and heart about the image of an animal or other creature smushed into garbage, and left like garbage where it died - caused by us. To me, it is a symbol of how we are treating the natural world: as an afterthought. Or as not a thought at all.

I haven't been able to take a photo of a wild victim of a vehicle collision since I took the image of the racoon's head smushed flat. It was more than I wanted to see, or share. But it is important to develop a record of where and when wildlife is killed, and it is important that we witness and acknowledge the 'collateral damage' of our continual and pervasive road building and driving.

I worry that wildlife will not survive us, or most species won't. Many animals die or are sequestered into smaller and smaller chunks of land by roads, and their inability to cross. There are other unseen impacts: millions of bees and insects are lost to vehicles and roads each year. These impacts affect food production, and food availability up the wild food chain, but considerations of such "small' losses aren't considered in environmental assessment or development decisions.
The impacts of driving and road development on wildlife are intense and wide reaching, though wildlife is often not even mentioned in transportation or road safety policy. If it is mentioned, it is only in relation to human safety. If we continue to develop the world around us without accommodating wildlife, it is more likely than not that we won't have wildlife to track on our roads. They simply won't be there.

I am going to get back to tracking wildlife I see on roads because it is important to be a witness, and to develop a record of collision data and hotspot locations in my local area. From now on, though, I will take photos from a distance I can stomach. Close up, road kill can be heartbreaking, and it is hard to continue on if you can't get certain images out of your head.

If you are interested to help track wildlife vehicle collisions in your area, get in touch or sign up. If you walk or bike, you are more aware and most able to see and record this data. More data equals more knowledge and awareness of what is happening to wildlife, close up, on our roads. If we don't know the impacts we are having, we can't learn to share our roads, and build crossings for wildlife to get across.

פורסם ב ינואר 19, 2017 03:08 אחה"צ על־ידי wanda_baxter wanda_baxter | 2 comments | הוספת תגובה

יוני 21, 2016

Watch for Wildlife NS - a shout out to my Dad, inspiration for the new program

https://www.localxpress.ca/opinions/commentary-my-father-taught-me-to-love-mother-nature-inspired-new-watch-for-wildlife-program-320311

My father taught me to love Mother Nature, inspired new Watch for Wildlife program
By Wanda Baxter:

My wish for Father’s Day is that more people start thinking about and acting like my dad does when it comes to wild animals hit by vehicles. Wildlife deserves our attentiveness while driving and our respect and decency when they are the casualties of collisions.
Jun 19, 2016 7:13 AM by: Local Xpress

I was lucky to have a father who treated his three daughters as though they were boys — at least that idea was relevant when I was a kid.

My father took us for nature walks before nature walks were cool — or were called nature walks. He taught us how to fish, how to pluck ducks, how to identify trees and animal tracks and bird songs (at least what he knew), and he taught us — especially me, it has turned out — to have deep respect for nature and wildlife. Except snakes. He has no love for snakes.

When I was growing up, it was his talking about and pointing out examples of the problems he saw with “roadkill” that first informed my awareness and concern for wildlife injured and killed by vehicles. Dad didn’t like what he was seeing: an increase in the incidence of animals being hit by cars; and he didn’t like that a lot of people just keep going when they hit an animal.

Over the last year, I have been researching and investigating why there is no public education about how to prevent and respond to wildlife-vehicle collisions in Nova Scotia. I have been trying to find out why there are so few wildlife considerations built into road design and road maintenance when there are many such examples in other places.

My wish for Father’s Day is that more people start thinking about and acting like my dad does when it comes to wild animals hit by vehicles. Wildlife deserves our attentiveness while driving and our respect and decency when they are the casualties of collisions. Watch for Wildlife is a wildlife-vehicle collision prevention program that will give information to drivers and visitors to Nova Scotia, both to prevent collisions and so people know how to respond when collisions do occur.

If we slow down, we can avoid most collisions. If we are scanning ahead for wildlife and use our high beams as often as possible when we drive, we can often see animals ahead of time and brake in time to miss them.

If we are especially wary in high-collision areas and at dawn and dusk when most wildlife are killed, we can increase our chances of not hitting wild creatures as we drive. And we can call in collisions when they occur to either a wildlife rescue or the provincial Department of Natural Resources.

If you are reading this and you are a dad — or you are someone like a dad to a young person — I hope you get outside today and share something about the natural world with children whom you love. I promise you, they won’t forget it, and it might shape how they think about and treat the world and the creatures that inhabit it.

Your child might even grow up to be an environmentalist and work to effect positive change, driven by a concern for nature that you instilled in them.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad: you are an inspiration and my hero.
And Happy Father’s Day to all dads — including the wild ones.

Wanda Baxter lives and works on an old farm north of Lunenburg. She sits on the executive committee (Atlantic) of the Sierra Club Canada Foundation and is program manager of Watch for Wildlife NS. The new Watch for Wildlife NS program launches in July with support of the Animal Welfare Canada Foundation, the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation (road safety division), Hope for Wildlife and others. If you are interested in volunteering with Watch for Wildlife NS or in donating to the program, contact Wandalynnbaxter@gmail.com

79
SHARES
Facebook

Twitter

פורסם ב יוני 21, 2016 03:26 אחה"צ על־ידי wanda_baxter wanda_baxter | 1 comment | הוספת תגובה

ארכיונים