Sharing The Road With Wildlife

By: Melina MatthesMMatthes@kptm.comOMAHA (kptm) - If you're planning on hitting the road for your next vacation, beware of wildlife. New tonight, the Nebraska State Patrol is reminding drivers this summer to watch out for animals on the roadway. A sergeant in the traffic services division said this season, troopers are seeing an increase in crashes with larger animals.The state trooper said the majority of wildlife collisions that occur in the state of Nebraska are with deer, however he urges drivers to be aware that it can happen at anytime and anyplace, not just in the country. For example an Omaha man was heading into work just the other day when he struck a large deer."The majority of crashes happen within 5 to 10 miles of your house and he was on his way to work. We're not exempt, it happens every day here and it can happen anywhere," Sgt. Keith Bell said.Since Memorial Day the Nebraska State Patrol has investigated dozens of crashes involving animals. While the majority of crashes involve deer, he said drivers have hit raccoons, big horn sheep, hogs and larger animals such as horses and cattle."These are very large animals and it's going to be the equivalent of hitting a car if you hit a cow or even a horse, so they could cause serious bodily injury or even death if you're involved in a crash with one of those."And he said some animals like the emu and turkey take the offensive approach and attack the cars coming at them."They have their bare basics. It's fight or flight and so they're going to run if it's something they can't handle or they're going to stand their ground and try to fight it if they think they can and so a lot of times if they think they can take this car on, they're not going to move, they're going to stand their ground and try to take it on."He said your best option is to slow down, honk your horn and steer around them if possible. And if you're traveling too fast, he said it's better to hit the animal then swerve into another car or even a ditch. "Wear your seatbelt just in case you do because it could possibly save your life."Sgt. Bell said if you hit an animal and it's still alive or if you see an animal struggling on the side of the road, don't get out of your car to try to help it. It could be in a lot of pain and extremely angry. He said call a professional.If you do hit an animal or see a dead one in the road, he said it could be a hazard. He encourages drivers to contact local law enforcement. They'll get in touch with the Nebraska Department of Roads and they will clean it up."Like" Melina on Facebook and follow her on Twitter to stay connected.