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Drive By Wildlife

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Reprinted with author permission

Being into nature and wildlife as I am makes driving even at night pleasurable, for as I round every bend I’m looking for critters. It forces me to leave a little earlier, and drive a bit slower too, especially at night. After totaling one car when hitting a deer head on, clipping another, and still having another run into the side of my car with a loud WHAM (fortunately the van had a fiberglass body and the deer left no mark), I now drive between 45---50 MPH at night time. I’ve found that at that speed I’m able to come to a complete stop if the deer(s) suddenly decide to bolt across the road. Even then we could collide, but the damage to my vehicle would be much less, and I’d likely remain unhurt. I’ve braked for bears too, a couple of times so hard, stuff slid off my seat---I came that close!

Any time I see a bear, it’s always a thrill. I have now seen a total of 49 in Tate’s Hell State Forest in Franklin County where I’ve been employed for over four years, and numerous other bears outside that area. As I rounded a curve on Hwy 67 driving through the Apalachicola National Forest a couple of weeks ago, I spotted about a 250 pounder sitting in the middle of the highway! Then last week as I literally drove on Hwy 67 into Carrabelle, one crossed the street only three blocks from Hwy 98! My point is there is wildlife everywhere, slow down and enjoy it.  For the last two months I’ve been seeing hen turkeys nearly every morning as I drive to work often in the same place along the roads. I figured they were taking a morning break from incubating their eggs. Now I’m seeing the hens with their little poults, many which can fly. I see about six bobcats per year, as well as a dozen coyotes, and grey foxes, plus dozens of otters, and too many deer and turkey to even try to keep track. This last year I’ve also seen a Striped Skunk (now rare around here) an all-black Fox Squirrel, as well as a jet black coyote. While working as an Environmental Specialist for the Division of Forestry, I’m constantly keeping my eye out for birds, and often keep record on them in the state forest. For instance in the last couple of weeks I’m observing about twice the number of Swallow-tailed kites, and Mississippi Kites as I usually see---because the young have now fledged their nests, and have joined their parents in flight while they’re being taught to hunt on their own. I’ve also observed Purple Martins gathering in large flocks of 500 or more in preparation to migrate, and in a few weeks, the Eastern Kingbirds will be gathering in large numbers for the same reason. Of course while driving, one should focus on driving, but if you’re aware of the wildlife along the roads, you’ll not only be a safer driver, but see some really unique creatures, which in our Big Bend area are thankfully rather common.

 

 

 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 12 October 2010 18:37 )