Increasingly, deer and other wildlife are being struck on Bellingham streets. The local Mount Baker chapter of the Sierra Club has brought the Watch for Wildlife campaign to Bellingham after its initial conception in Nova Scotia in 2016. The City of Bellingham will distribute yard signs and educational brochures to those interested in voluntarily participating in the program. Contact Public Works for more information.
The objective of the program is to reduce injury and mortality of wildlife and people on our roads, and to encourage vehicle collision mitigation measures.
Animal collisions happen too frequently within the City limits. This map shows the reported deer carcass recoveries from 2016-2018. Prevention is the best solution to this issue, and it is a driver's responsibility to:
- Be particularly careful between 6 and 9 at dawn and dusk. These are the times are when most collisions with vehicles occur.
- Watch your speed. Collisions with wildlife can sometimes be avoided if you have time to slow down and avoid the collision, especially on rural roads.
- Scan ahead. Scanning ahead for animals helps you to see them before they are in your path. Watch especially for the light of their eyes reflecting your lights at night and use your high beam headlights as often as possible.
- Honk your horn. A few short horn blasts helps to alert animals to get out of the way instead of freezing in place by instinct (turtles, snakes and birds, not so much).
- Brake to slow down (don't swerve!). If an animal is on the road, brake gently to slow down, but don't swerve or stop suddenly. It is important that your reaction to avoid wildlife doesn't endanger yourself or other drivers.
- Proceed carefully. If you see an animal on or near the road, slow up slightly to see what they are going to do - they can be unpredictable - and look around for others. Animals often travel together and young animals follow their mothers. Scan around without stopping to see if there are others and then proceed cautiously.
- Flick your lights. Warn oncoming cars of the hazard ahead. Even if they don't understand the signal to mean there is a wildlife hazard ahead, they will likely recognize you are giving a warning signal and will pay added attention.
- Don't litter! Throwing garbage and food out vehicle windows attracts animals onto the road. It may seem innocent and harmless enough to throw an apple core or banana peel out the window because they are biodegradable, however wildlife and birds will be attracted to food on the road, which often means they will be injured or killed. Garbage will also attract them.
If a collision does occur, know who to call. Keep a copy of the Whatcom County Watch for Wildlife brochure in your car.
PLEASE REPORT ALL COLLISIONS
If animal is alive:
WHATCOM HUMANE SOCIETY WILDLIFE REHABILITATION CENTER (360) 966-8845
If animal is deceased:
WHATCOM COUNTY ANIMAL CONTROL (360) 733-2080
Thank you to Sierra Club Canada for sharing information on resources for this program.