Sunday, June 12, 2011

Save an Animal's Life: Drive Slowly

A black furry rabbit at the farmer's market: yes, they
come in all sizes, colors and furs
It's summer now, and animals are crossing the roads in record numbers, hunting for food and water.

Many of them are being killed by automobiles. Yesterday as I was riding one of my favorite routes in the Catskills, I saw a bird on the side of the road struggling for its life.

I picked it up, hoping to save it from death by giving it water. Little did I know it had been hit by a car, and its neck was broken. I watched the poor animal struggling for life, gasping for breath, opening and closing her beak noiselessly, evidently in huge pain, in shock of the state of pain it was in.

Then she quietly died in my hand. She stopped opening her beak, her small eyes closed slowly, and her head slumped to the side. Small gray thing, it hardly knew a year of life.  I laid it down in a soft, safe spot by the side of the road, in a small garden.

A month ago, I was riding along Piermont Road just about to enter Sparkill, when a small squirrel ran out and just barely was hit by my wheel.

But driving swiftly on the other side of the road was a large SUV. He didn't even slow or brake as his wheel crushed the skull of the squirrel. I saw her face, in the moment when he crushed her, of pain, surprise, shock.

Another cute bunny: please save their lives and drive slowly
The driver wasn't even looking. Nor was the driver behind him. Both of them were speeding on this small road teaming with wildlife. Even though I had screamed and motioned for him to slow down just as he was approaching, and after he killed her, the driver didn't slow or stop.

I stopped my bike, went back and found the squirrel on the side of the road. I found her in the final moments of life. Her breasts were full--she was leaving behind an entire family of babies.  Like the bird, she struggled in the last gasping moments for another breath of the only life she would know. Was she thinking of her babies or just in excruciating pain? Hard to say.

It never ceases to amaze me in this society how little animals seem to count to the general population. Animals are routinely raised and killed to serve our massive appetites for meat, most of which we really don't need. Their minds, hearts, feelings, and lives mean nothing to us as we pick up slices of their carcasses on the meat shelves in the supermarket.

And don't kid yourself, if you eat meat from the farmer's market, it's still a life that went to feed your mouth.
This fawn was killed on Rte. 9W near state line in 2010. Its
carcass lay by the side of the road for days.

That insensitivity extends to our roadways in the cruelest way, because the animal's death is not being used to sustain another life. The senselessness is lost on most drivers, who believe that it is their right to drive as fast as they want to make it --minutes? maybe seconds? earlier to their next appointment.

Here in the Catskills, as in Sparkill, drivers routinely speed along roads their music blasting, their motors roaring, where deer, opossum, squirrels, rabbits, birds of all kinds, turtles, and scores of other animals routinely cross the roads hunting for food and water.

The manufacturing of vehicles into bigger and bigger monstrosities, higher from the ground, to help the driver imagine that they are lording over the road, stretches the distance even further from wild life who are trying to cross. It also makes their lives more foreign to drivers, and in many cases, makes them less visible as well.

So many times when I drive down roads, and birds dip quickly in front of my car, I have time to brake. But not if there is someone behind me driving five feet from my back wheel.

So dear readers, please consider for this summer, a slower and more gentle approach to the road for our dear friends, animals, living creatures, feelers of pain and pleasure, essential creatures to our habitat.

Please consider them and drive slowly.

2 comments:

Andy B from Jersey said...

Jen,

I wrote a report about the environmental impacts of roads and cars on the environment in my final year studying ecology at Rutgers. The number of wild animals killed on roads by cars is very significant but rarely talked about. Ecologist speculate that the high numbers of roadkill have greatly increased the numbers of vultures and red tailed hawks both of which are known to scavenge roadkill.

andrewmercercanada said...

Good post. I'm actually reading it because I drive a car and I want to be more prepared if I see an animal in distress on the road. Your site showed up in my Google searching.

Just today I was driving back to work on my lunch hour and saw a baby gopher that had been hit by a car and left there, still alive and struggling by whoever had hit it. Myself and a couple of other guys managed to get it off the road and called the local Humane Society who showed up within ten minutes, but I could have had him to a vet in that time if I had proper equipment in the car to transport him there, hence my searching.

It really is shocking how disrespectful people are of the animal wildlife around them.