It's a jungle out there for animals and drivers on California's motorways

  • Animals
  • Wednesday, 16 Oct 2019

Highways are a dangerous place to let pets go unleashed. Photo: TNS

As if California’s Bay Area drivers didn’t have enough to contend with dodging vehicles, animals in the US state have joined the confusion, including a mountain lion that was struck and killed in San Mateo County. California Highway Patrol said the cougar was hit by an unknown vehicle on Interstate 280.

It’s the second mountain lion killed in recent weeks – a mountain lion wearing a tracking collar was shot and killed in the mountains north of Los Angeles – and the second in 2019 to be killed by a vehicle. In July, a mountain lion was hit by a car on Highway 29 near Lakeport. The accident injured nine people.

Recently, a truck carrying hundreds of chickens to a slaughterhouse crashed on Interstate 80. The truck caught fire and CHP shut the highway for eight hours as they investigated, cleaned up the mess and rounded up the chickens. Many of the birds died in the accident; survivors were taken in by animal control.

Days earlier on Sept 3, chickens at the Bay Bridge toll plaza slowed the commute. And on Highway 101, commuters in San Jose had to dodge a goose that was wandering down the motorway until a CHP motorcycle officer encouraged it to exit off the freeway.

A goose was also responsible for a power outage in Palo Alto on Aug 26, which temporarily cut power to 3,000 residents when it flew into power lines.

Drivers on Highway 99 near Fresno were slowing down and rubbing their eyes when an emu decided to hoof it along the shoulder of the busy roadway. Animal services managed to take the bird into custody unharmed.

Then there was the leashed cat found trembling on the ledge of the Bay Bridge in August, which snarled traffic as officials worked to rescue it.

It hasn’t been all birds and felines messing up the drive. In April, a sea lion was seen on Highway 101 in south San Francisco, causing traffic to slow until the animal was taken in CHP and sent to a marine mammal centre in Sausalito.

Wildlife experts warn that it’s likely to get worse as the days get shorter, Daylight Saving Time ends, and more Californians drive home in the dark. – Tribune News Service/The Mercury News

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