Thursday 21 October 2021

Our roads are a serious risk for both wildlife and pets

Sadly, thousands of animals die on our roads every year, of which only a tiny fraction are reported.

Our road network in the UK runs through beautiful rural areas, hills, mountains and cities, but around all of our roads are where our wild creatures also live. In fact, in many cases the animals and birds lived there long before the roads and busy traffic came along, and so humans and their transport impose on natural highways that animals have used for hundreds of years.

Only the hardest-hearted driver can pass a dead animal who’s been a victim of a road accident and not feel pity: another innocent victim of the ever-increasing number of vehicles on the road. The insurance comparison website GoCompare has published detailed research on road traffic accidents involving animals, and it makes for sombre reading.

A pheasant – sadly, one of the most common victims of road accidents

The UK’s longest road, the A1, is unsurprisingly the most lethal for wildlife accidents by quantity, with deer the species most frequently involved in accidents, followed by badgers, and then cats. The figures show that both wild and domesticated creatures are at risk on our roads. Dead deer are a common sight on rural roads, and they are increasingly likely to live near to residential areas as their habitats are encroached upon for development. ‘Deer crossing’ road signs are put up for a reason, and drivers should heed them and be more aware in those areas; an average of £24,000 is claimed on car insurance each year for deer-related damage.

Other animals who don’t fare well on roads are badgers and pheasants, with hedgehogs, foxes and rabbits also the most likely to be hit by cars, as roads encroach on their habitats.

Badgers are often victims of road accidents, too

July is the month when the most accidents occur: unsurprising, given that this month includes the start of the school holidays, when many head off for breaks in cars, camper-vans and caravans, and onto less familiar roads.

A collision with an animal can be a traumatic experience for all concerned, and is often fatal for the animal. The key things to remember if you do hit an animal are:

• Stay calm and pull over safely

• If you have hit a dog or farm animal, you must report it to the police, whether or not the accident results in the animal’s death. Regarding cats, the law is being reviewed, but it is best tell a local vet, and ideally, take the cat to them.

• Be cautious with animals who are still alive after a collision, as they will be scared and in pain and may panic. Call 101 and report the accident, and the appropriate expert will be sent out.

• Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as you can, with full details.

The sad statistics of over 14,600 incidents on the roads involving animals annually (and that’s only those that are reported) paint a sorry picture of the sheer number of accidents involving animals and vehicles. As drivers, we should take heed of these facts and be more aware and cautious, in order to avoid unnecessary distress and injury – possibly death – to our native wildlife and domestic pets.

Foxes are often the victims of road accidents

With thanks to GoCompare.