As autumn settles in, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is sending out a crucial reminder to all drivers regarding wildlife encounters on state roads and highways.
With the conclusion of Daylight Saving Time, the Golden State witnesses a notable uptick in vehicle-wildlife collisions on its roadways. During the first week of November, as drivers adjust to reduced daylight during the evening commute, it’s important to recognize that this is also the time when deer, elk, bears, and other animals are on the move for migration, mating, or foraging.
Collisions with wildlife pose serious threats and financial burdens for drivers. In 2019, over two thousand wildlife-related collisions resulted in nearly 400 injuries, according to data from the California Highway Patrol. Additionally, the UC Davis Road Ecology Center estimates that animal-vehicle conflicts cost the state approximately $250 million annually.
“Wildlife-vehicle collisions pose an increasingly significant threat to both people and wildlife and can result in serious injury or death,” said Vicky Monroe, CDFW Human-Wildlife Conflict Program Coordinator. “This time of year, large native species such as deer and elk are more likely to cross highways or roads during their mating season (rut), and black bears are on the search for food. We ask drivers to remain cautious, vigilant, and aware of their surroundings while driving to help reduce this conflict.”
Standard safe driving practices can also contribute to wildlife safety, including:
- Staying extra alert near areas frequented by wildlife, like streams and rivers, and reducing speed, especially around curves.
- Avoiding texting while driving and focusing on the road.
- Being particularly attentive during the morning and evening hours when wildlife is often most active.
- Recognizing that if you see an animal on or near the road, others may be following.
- Refraining from littering as trash and food odors can attract animals to roadways.
- Paying attention to road shoulders for signs of movement or reflecting eyes, and slowing down while honking the horn if an animal is spotted.
Above all, it’s vital to respect the wildlife that share California’s habitat. As daylight hours diminish, CDFW appreciates drivers who prioritize safe driving practices.