Vehicle and wildlife collisions peak this time of year | Sweetened

safe Vehicle collisions with deer and elk tend to peak in October and November, when migration and breeding (“estrus”) move them, increasing their likelihood of crossing roads. Less daylight hours and rainy weather reduce drivers’ visibility.

This cautionary advice and a reminder about mandatory rescue route kill testing for chronic wasting disease was in a joint news release Thursday from the Oregon Fish and Wildlife and Oregon Department of Transportation.

On average, ODOT documents more than 6,000 vehicle collisions with deer and elk each year. The actual number of collisions is likely to be higher, as many are not reported if there is minimal damage or no human casualties.

The ODFW and ODOT are asking Oregonians to pay attention to wildlife at this time of year and follow these tips:

• Be careful when driving in areas marked with the possibility of wildlife. These tags are posted for a reason.

• Watch out for areas with heavy vegetation along the road or while going around curves. Wildlife near the road may not be visible.

• If you see one animal, stay alert. There may be others nearby.

• If you see wildlife on or near the road, slow down and stay in your lane. Many serious accidents occur as a result of drivers losing control while swerving to avoid wildlife.

The same advice applies to smaller wild animals such as raccoons; Try to stay in your lane and don’t swerve to these animals. They are less dangerous to vehicles than large game animals and it is crucial to maintain control of your vehicle.

• Always wear your seat belt. Even a minor collision can result in serious injuries.

ODFW, ODOT and partner organizations are working to reduce vehicle and wildlife collision risks by building wildlife crossings. Crossings allow wildlife to safely follow their migration patterns over or under the road. Data shows that wildlife crossings on Highway 97 near Sunriver have reduced collisions between vehicles and wildlife by nearly 90%.

A bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress in 2021 provides $350 million in competitive grants to states for wildlife transit and other impacts. ODFW, ODOT and other partners will work to secure grants for the projects.

Oregon drivers can also show their support by purchasing a Watch for Wildlife license plate. Revenue from license plate sales will benefit projects that help wildlife move within their range and between habitat patches. The license plate was originally developed by the Oregon Wildlife Foundation, and is now available at the DMV.

Road Rescuers: CWD Test Mandatory

As vehicle collisions between wildlife and the rush rise, so does participation in the ODFW’s Road Accident Rescue Program. Since 2019, rescuing deer or elk struck by a vehicle has been legal in Oregon. Lifeguards are required to fill out a free online permit available at https://bit.ly/OR_roadkill

Since the program launched in January 2019, 5,027 permits have been issued. Most permits were issued to black-tailed deer in western Oregon, where there are more drivers.

Rescuers are also required to bring the head and antlers of all rescued deer and elk to the ODFW office for testing within five days. This is what makes ODFW able to test animal for chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease ODFW has been researching since it first appeared in the late 1960s in Colorado.

The disease has never been detected in Oregon’s wildlife. But CWD testing regulations took on new importance after they were discovered in several wild deer and elk in northwestern Idaho, about 30 miles from the Oregon border, late last year.

Infected animals can spread the disease for several years before they develop symptoms (which include loss of balance, drooling, wasting or emaciation, and eventually death). Testing apparently healthy deer and elk early in the disease course when they are not showing symptoms is the most effective way to catch the disease before the animal spreads disease through the landscape and other animals.

“With the disease now approaching state limits, we just want to remind road rescue workers of the mandatory testing requirements.” ODFW Veterinarian for Wildlife Dr. Colin Gillin explained. “The more animals a case is tested for, the more certain it is that the disease is not in the case. If it is detected, the World Rural Development Office can implement its response plan to contain the spread of the disease.”

Test results are expected to take up to a month. If an animal tests positive for CWD, the biologist or vet will contact the person who rescued that animal directly.

Negative test results for road rescuers to be tested individually will be posted online at https://bit.ly/OR_CWDtesting

To find your score, enter the RSP before your permit number (eg RSP5001).

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