What to do when you see injured wildlife on a road

by | Wildlife Fact Sheets |

The weather is warming up, and wildlife is becoming more active. As this new season sets in, this means more and more wildlife are being found injured or killed on streets and highways. Here are some tips from our factsheet Wildlife Friendly Driving.

Injured wildlife on the roadside

Often, concerned motorists don’t know what to do when they pass injured animals on busy roads. Sometimes it’s impossible to interfere without risking your own safety, so use your judgment. If it seems unsafe to stop, find a telephone as soon as possible and call for help. If you do not know the phone number of your local Ontario SPCA Animal Centre, affiliated Humane Society or municipal animal control, dial the operator for assistance. Please remember not to use your cell phone while driving.

If you’re able to stop and help an injured animal, do so with caution. Wild injured animals will be in self-defense mode and won’t understand you are trying to help them. You may want to have the following items in your car in case of emergency:

  • wildlife, injured wildlife
    photo credit: reclaimednj Eastern box turtle [on road] via photopin (license)
    Ventilated cardboard box or cardboard cat carrier
  • Towel, blanket and pillow case
  • Protective eyewear
  • Rubber gloves
  • Thick work gloves
  • Thin board to use as a stretcher Flare or pylon
  • Pool liner or rubber mat to handle porcupines

If you can safely do so, pull over to the shoulder and turn on your four-way flashing lights. If you don’t feel comfortable handling the animal and you have a cell phone, call for assistance. You can place a flare or pylon near the animal until help arrives if the animal can’t be moved. This will alert traffic and reduce the animal’s chances of being hit again.

Caution first

If the animal appears non-aggressive and is small enough to carry, carefully place her in a towellined box and drive to a nearby Ontario SPCA Animal Centre, affiliated Humane Society or veterinary clinic. Otherwise, carefully place the animal on the stretcher board and drag him off the road. Moving dead animals to the side of the road can also prevent further accidents. An animal’s mate or young are at risk if they venture out onto the road in an attempt to help their family member. Predators and domestic animals are also at risk if an animal’s body remains on the road and serves as a source of interest to them.

Turtles, frogs and other slow-moving animals are frequent victims of vehicle collisions. Whenever possible, take time to help them cross the road, but do not pick up snapping turtles as they bite and can cause serious injury. Use a large stick or shovel to push snapping turtles across the road by gently pressing against the animal’s shell. Always move the animal in the direction in which she was headed initially, otherwise, she will only turn around and go back across the road.