After spending days on the road, I have traveled now back and forth over the Southwest landscape like a ball on a ping pong board centered in the mountains above Boulder, Colorado. I have broken down twice, drove hundreds of miles on a check engine light with little heat or air but nothing prepared me for my ride into a remote portion of Utah recently from Arizona.
I left the horse ranch from which I was awaiting three mares to give birth and observe the territorial actions of the rescued ranch dogs against their opposing rivals- the coyotes. These little creatures held lighter coats than the coyotes of the Rockies who seemed much heartier in their appearance.
Recently, a small stream had flooded into a somewhat raging river which took out a round pen on the property and left remarkable erosion similar to a mini- version of a Grand Canyon like drop-off.
Upon my disappointment, a foal was only born two days after my departure and I needed to get back to Boulder to resume my research living with the wolves.
I set out that day expecting good weather, traveling North up through Flagstaff and Tuba City and onward into the remote regions of Utah which in these parts are a lot Indian reservations and nearby Fundementailist Mormon strong holds. It was about 5:30 pm as the sun set across the desert and the few cars that past by had now turned on their headlights.
I saw a large pick-up truck approaching from the north, flashing his lights on and off heavily. I slowed down looking for signs of a police car and out from the corner of my eye, I saw a large buck heading straight for the open road.
It all happened so calmly as if a slow motion picture was unraveling. I looked at him, he looked at me and we both started to try and read each other within a few split seconds. He was in between decissions as if to say “am I going to run all the way across or hesitate and wait for another car on this side to hit me?” I saw his hesitation but he then committed forward trotting quickly. At this point my car had slowed to about 30 MPH from 75. As he moved across, I swirved to the left so as not to hit him but it was too late. Both dogs crates slid forward, luggage ended up in the passanger seat and my right front headlamp hit the hind quarter of this poor creature. I pulled over immediatly looking for him but he was gone. “Was he dead? No- the impact wasn’t hard enough.” I told myself. I imagine in a worse case scenario he could have broken his hip but I imagine from the damage to my car, he is badly bruised but will hopfully survive.
Here it was on this day that the very thing I am fighting against- the over expansion of roads and highways, more cars, urban sprawl and modernization that I hit a deer.
Each and every year, thousands of dollars are spent on damages to vehicles from hitting wildlife. Human lives are lost, severe injuries and accidents take place as well as open corridors for animals are slowly diminishing. Top predators such as the mountain lion and wolf find it harder to expand and seek new territory surpassing these human inventions called roads and highways.
It was a reminder to me of the dangers of the open road in areas that I do not drive frequently. Near my home, deer and elk will migrate in the same spots consistently so each of these areas you pay special attention to before approaching. Going 75 MPH, unless the oncoming truck flashed his lights to warn me, both myself and the large buck could have been killed.
I have seen about 3 deer killed on my travels the past four years and it can be a slow and painful death.
Remember to pay close attention to signs and stay alert always. A tired driver could be a deadly one. Stay safe and watch out for wildlife when driving through the corridors of mother nature.