San Bernardino National Forest, September 17, 2013 – Many mountain residents have heard of drivers accidentally hitting deer or bears on local highways, but here are some startling statistics: In 2010, there were over 1,800 wildlife-vehicle collisions statewide, causing approximately $1 billion in property damage (per the California Highway Patrol). Nationally, an estimated 1.5 million animals are hit annually, causing over 200 human fatalities, according to Defenders of Wildlife.

“Watch Out for Wildlife Week” runs through September 22, and is promoted by Caltrans, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis, in an effort to improve safety for travelers and wildlife alike.

Craig Stowers, CDFW’s Deer Program Coordinator, points out, “Many deaths, injuries, and costly vehicle repairs could be avoided if drivers would just pay more attention, be aware of when animals are most active and be prepared to react safely if an animal moves onto the road.”

Caltrans and CDFW offer a few tips for motorists:

  • Be particularly alert when driving in wildlife areas.
  • If you see an animal cross the road, know that another may be following.
  • Don’t litter. It could entice animals to venture onto the road.