Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?
To get to the other side
Everyone may be familiar with the riddle joke “Why did the chicken cross the road? Joke aside, the answer “To get to the other side!” is exactly what the chicken, squirrel, dog, cat or any number of animals are compelled to do everyday but suffer the misfortune of ending up as roadkill.
More times than not we tend to look and quickly avert our eyes from the carcasses of small mammals lying on the side of the road or strewn across the highway as the result of a gruesome encounter with a barreling car.
According to the Georgia Wildlife Blog “Every year in the United States, an estimated 400 million animals are killed in automobile collisions. For many species these collisions are among the top causes of mortality.” While these numbers are indeed staggering, Lindsay Rosa in her article published in the Defenders of Wildlife sheds light on yet another disturbing fact: some twenty one threatened or endangered animal species in the US are in even greater danger on account of fatalities resulting from road accidents. The list includes the Florida Panther, Ocelot and Red Wolf among others.
The confusion of roads crisscrossing all over the topography makes it a constant hazard for animals attempting to get to the other side in search of food, mate, water or who are just trying to go home to their human’s house, den, burrow, tunnel. Lindsay Rosa puts it this way “Our nation’s transportation network, which you likely take advantage of every day, cuts through natural landscapes and is very much a part of the story of our coexistence with our wildlife neighbors.”
My experience with animals on the road mostly involves turkeys especially around thanksgiving time. The drivers in my town are usually good about it, waiting patiently as the birds take their sweet time with their progress to the other end of the road. What I’ve learnt in situations like this is that you can honk away at them but it usually falls on deaf ears and could instead result in an irate turkey gobbling right back at you for your troubles.
Roads are not the only impediments to the safe passage of animals. Houses can be too too.
It reminds me of a chilling story my cousin recounted to me. He had woken up one morning to a whistling sound. Thinking his mom was using the pressure cooker he didn’t think much about it at that time. Sometime later, he started to get concerned and called out to his mom asking if she had something on the stove. When the reply came in the negative, he began to search the house for the source of the mysterious whistling sound.
What a shock he received when he discovered it was coming from a python draped around the mounted photo frame in his dining room! He hastily called the local wildlife authorities who promptly responded by coming and collecting the unwelcome guest. They explained to my cousin that his house happened to be bang in the middle of an ancient migratory path that the python was following and had apparently been confused by the obstacle that was blocking its way.
Sometimes we are tempted to stop our vehicles and help these animals make a safe crossing or rush to the aid of an animal lying on the road in distress.
A gentle soul I know happened to observe a stranded swan in the middle of the road on her commute back home from work. She immediately pulled over because she knew if action wasn’t taken right away, the swan was going to be a victim of a terrible accident. She single handedly halted traffic at considerable risk to herself in order to move the swan along its way.
Well, the swan managed to make his way safely to the other side, registering his protests loudly, apparently clueless as to what the fuss was all about! Little did it know that the human who saved his life was going to receive the thanks for her good deed in the form of evil glares and rude comments from exasperated drivers.
While it speaks of a person’s empathy and desire to help a fellow creature in need, the SPCA strongly cautions against taking matters into your hand as it can prove to not only be a danger to yourself, other motorists and to the very animals you are trying to rescue. The SPCA recommends calling the local police to ensure the situation is resolved safely for everyone involved.
Here’s some helpful tips offered by Triple AAA to avoid collision with animals crossing the road.
A quote, one of my favorites, by Robert Swan helps puts things in perspective- “The greatest danger to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” That need not be the case if we are more mindful of other living things we share this space with."
Originally published on Medium