Monday, October 15, 2012

"Sleeping on the interstate, getting wild, wild life..."

Here in Indiana, the critter crossing signs (of which there is one every few hundred yards) all warn of the same animal: Odocoileus virginianus, the Eastern Hoofed Rat. In New Hamster, I saw ones for what Marko calls "swamp donkeys", or moose.

It was interesting to see the variety out west.

You want to watch out for elk. Seriously.

What was disturbing about this sign on the interstate in Colorado was the knowledge that the signs only go up after a certain number of the indicated vehicle/wildlife interactions have occurred in the vicinity. I got the mental picture of some Miata or Elan pilot enjoying the curvy highway between Raton and Trinidad when... WHAM! Hey, Boo-Boo! You dropped your pic-a-nic basket!

43 comments:

Jay G said...

I'm sure you know this, but a moose will seriously mess up even big vehicles. I've known a few F-350s totalled by moose.

Ask Weerd about his dad and a VW Bug...

Carteach said...

Oh course, I immediately adopted Yogi's voice to repeat that last sentence.

First, and possibly the last, smile of the day. Thank you.

BobG said...

On the west side of Salt Lake Valley, we have to watch for a big herd of elk that wanders down now and then. The deer are so common in this area that they are taken for granted.

westofthewest said...

Down around San Diego we have these.

Anonymous said...

Up on the Mogollon Plateau in Arizona, we saw a Burma-Shave-esque sign sequence:

Elk are large
In herds they run
Across the highway
Don't hit one
Arizona Fish & Game Department

mustanger said...

Where I live, the sign would have to read:

"DEER CROSSING NEXT 15 MILES"

Seriously, they don't cross in one place as people seem to think.

Kristophr said...

"Seriously, they don't cross in one place as people seem to think."

Not sure if this is brain-burning stupid or deliberate goofing ... you make the call.

( Oh, and in Yosemite Nat. Park, the bears have learned to peel the sides off of small cars, doors and all, to get at the tasty treats inside. )

Chasing Freedom said...

You know you're out west when you start seeing COWS as road kill O_o

bla said...

My wife and I were in the Miata, top down, coming up the Lost Trail Pass from Idaho to Montana, when at the top of the pass (doing only about 20 or so on a switchback) we got a STRONG whiff of bear-smell. We didn't exactly dawdle for the next couple of miles.

I could just see a grizzly looking at the two of us in that little toy, thinking, "Hmmm...might be a good juicy center when you get past the crunchy wrapper."

Borepatch said...

I love the mystified suggestions from the Usual Suspects saying that we need to build wildlife bridges. Just like the ones in Central Park.

Farmgirl said...

That bear sign has been threatened with theft more than once. I think if it were anywhere but where it is, there would have already been a late night excursion....

Also, yes, watch out for elk. They are beautiful creatures, but not when they're coming in the windshield with you, in liquid form....

Ken said...

In Pennsyltucky, between mileposts 200 and about 240 on I-80, a few of the deer crossing signs have Rudolph noses. :-)

David said...

The state highways around Camp Guernsey, Wyoming have tank crossing signs. Just like your bear or elk signs - only with a sillouette of a tank on it. You think hitting an elk will ruin your day...

connie said...

I had no idea there was such thing as "bear-smell." The things I learn from this blog! :)

Anonymous said...

Why in St Elmo's blue blazes did I ready that last sentence "Honey Boo-Boo! You dropped your picnic basket!"? Doubt there's feral hog signs posted out there.

Anonymous said...

*read not ready.

RabidAlien said...

My question is....would a bear/elk even NOTICE getting rammed by a Miata/Prius at speed?

David said...

to quote Bill Cosby (granted he was talking about volkswagon beetles)

"You have a head-on collision with a dog - you lose."

Ken said...

Another Bill Cosby: "...this tree just jumped right out of the forest, and bit my car!"

Anonymous said...

Try to explain that cattle and sheep have the right of way on some sections of highway to folks from New Jersey.

They think your pulling their leg.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

Think the bear signs along I-25 are bad?

Wait until you see them right outside your front door here in Trinidad. There you are, in a rush to get out the door to gunsmithing school and you're carrying an armful of iron and tools out to your pick-um-up truck and... WTF?! There's a bear in my way!

mustanger said...

"Also, yes, watch out for elk. They are beautiful creatures, but not when they're coming in the windshield with you, in liquid form...."

200+lbs. Alabama Whitetail vs '82 Chevette at 50mph... back in December '86... busted the front end all to pieces.

mustanger said...

"Try to explain that cattle and sheep have the right of way on some sections of highway to folks from New Jersey.

They think your pulling their leg."

According to Ben K. Green, author of a book titled "Wild Cow Tales", Texas law used to be that if a motorist hit a horse, cattle, or other livestock, the motorist was liable. According to this source, Texas changed the law in the mid-1950's so the animal's owner is liable.

In my area, we sometimes deal with horses or cattle in the road. Mostly, it's easier not to run over them than to deal with the aftermath.

Mockingbird said...

Gosh, I feel inadequate on wildlife size! From the Florida line to Kingsland, GA, US17 runs through a swamp. I've stopped for egrets, herons, mama and ducklings,many moccasains, opossums, coons and one 6 foot gator.

Justthisguy said...

It's Florida cougars around here, now that it's too late, and they're mostly all gone. There was a bounty on them in FL, well into the fifties.

Nathan A said...

I really thought you were leading into this genius with this post. It's worth a listen.

Murphy's Law said...

I whacked a Michigan White-Tail with an '87 Ford Ranger once. (Hey, I MISSED two out of the three.) Sheriff comes out to take the report, looks at the dead deer, looks at the tore-up Ranger, and says "I honestly don't know which one to hang the kill tag on."

Ya, funny. Now get me a tow truck, dammit.

Old NFO said...

LOL, yep those signs ARE there for a reason, and your comment reminded me of the Norwegian that dodged to miss the Moose and hit the Bear a couple of months ago!

Well Seasoned Fool said...

No joke about bear on Raton Pass. A cousin with an aunt and uncle aboard just missed one a month ago.

Once Free Man said...

Urban deer zones are a motorist's friend.
Namby pambies don't seem to grasp that thinning the herd is necessary when the natural predators have been relegated to non-PC lack of endangerment.

I'll take a couple out of circulation for you, plus a few others I'll put in my parents' freezer. (Dad's too old now, he says, to pull back his bow.)

RabidAlien said...

::looks around carefully:: Hmmm...no "Caution: Spammers" signs. And I read somewhere that they're in season right now, too....

::slowly reaches for 12-gage::

netpackrat said...

In Alaska, you may have a more grizzly problem....

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-08-23-1968091571_x.htm

Steve Skubinna said...

Years ago my brother was down in the Lower 48 complaining at all the misconception people down here have about life in Alaska. "They think we're all, like, Nanook of the North or something."

Then he mentioned he was picking up his new truck the next day. I said I didn't know he was getting a new one.

"Yeah, that's why I came down. I totaled the old one hitting a moose."

wrm said...

Here's a sign from Namibia. And yes, shortly afterwards I had to brake hard to not hit two of them.

http://www.retro.co.za/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/P1100673r-300x186.jpg

Anonymous said...

All those comments aside, nice Talking Heads reference.

Bram said...

Here in Northwest NJ I've managed not to avoid the ubiquitous deer twice. I have also had close calls with Black Bears on several occasions. But a near miss with a Moose in Northern Maine was the scariest close encounter I've had.

JohnW said...

Try explaining to Easterners what an "Open Range" sign means.

Stretch said...

Fla. state road 41 has alligator crossing signs. Hitting a gator at speed will ruin your alignment. Wife's nephew spend about 45 minutes on roof of car waiting for the routine State Trooper patrol to arrive. Had hit a large gator and broke front end parts. Gator shrugged it off and went back to the swamp.

Kristophr said...

Bram: NJ's problem is the legislature's habit of screwing with hunters.

Unless you can shoot those tasty animals, they will try to take the land back from you.

Justthisguy said...

Strech, my Mom and ex-brother were driving across Alligator Alley and hit a large feral hog. The hog got up and ran away. The car, a big old station wagon from the sixties, was totalled.

Ian Argent said...

If they get to be a terrible nuisance, some towns will issue special licenses to hunters and let them thin the herd, with the meat going to charity. Others are idiots and hire out "sharpshooters." I can't recall off the top of my head which option my town went for most recently.

markm said...

mustanger said...
Seriously, they don't cross in one place as people seem to think.


That depends. My in-laws used to live on US 31 south of Manistee, Michigan. There are houses every few hundred feet along the road, each with it's yard, but there's uninterrupted second-growth forest (AKA white-tail heaven) behind the houses. Deer like to stay in cover, so to cross the road, they'll look for one of the few strips of forest that has been left in between the yards. Such as the one running along one side of my inlaw's property.

So there were several little herds of deer crossing regularly at that one point. Result: several car-deer collisions a year, and all the road-kill they could fit in the freezers.

Deer are smart in some ways, but they must be utterly incapable of comprehending automobiles. When turkeys were re-introduced in Michigan, initially it was common for them to wander aimlessly across roads with no regard for traffic. (And the cops would cite you if you hit one.) But they learned better within a decade; now, when a flock has to cross, the older ones will come up to the edge, wait for traffic to clear, and chivvy the young across like crossing guards. But large numbers of deer have been dieing on the roads for a century, and they still haven't got a clue.

markm said...

Kristophr:

That link almost made me late for work this morning. I discovered it is possible to laugh so hard you can't get your clothes on.

I looked this up on Snopes. It's "real", at least in the sense that this phone call really was aired live by a radio station. There was also a letter to the editor on a similar subject, from someone who is entirely too male to be this caller. What Snopes couldn't confirm was whether either of these people were serious, but if "Donna the deer-crossing lady" was goofing, it's the best dead-pan humor I've heard since Pat Paulsen on the Smothers Brothers TV show.


As for your note about Yosemite Park bears learning to peel cars - I hope that by the "tasty treats inside" you meant what's in the owner's ice chest. AFAIK, bears aren't yet confident enough about humans going unarmed to prey on us by design. (That's different from the bear tearing some idiot to pieces for pissing it off, even if it doesn't leave the meat to go to waste afterwards.)