A recent patient at the BC SPCA’s Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) on Vancouver Island showcases how dangerous this time of year can be for nocturnal wildlife.
A short-eared owl, a rare patient at Wild ARC, was recently found by the side of Metchosin Road with a severely broken wing, after being hit by a vehicle.
“As the days get shorter and people commute to and from work in the dark, nocturnal animals like owls are also active at these times, hunting near roadsides for small rodents like mice and shrews,” says BC SPCA chief scientific officer Dr. Sara Dubois.
“As a result, they are at higher risk from vehicle collisions during this time of year, and we encourage those on the road to exercise extra caution when driving.”
The short-eared female owl, after undergoing surgery to pin and stabilize the bones, is expected to be in Wild ARC’s care for several weeks as she heals and recovers.
Her care includes medication for pain, to prevent infection and to promote healing, specialized staff care including hand-feeding and therapies to help rehabilitate the wing, and flight testing before release.
If all goes well, the owl will be returned to the wild when she is fully recovered.
“She’s a beautiful bird! We can’t wait for her to be able to fly again, and hunt for her meals the way owls are supposed to,” Dubois says.
Here are some steps drivers can take to avoid collisions with wildlife:
- Pay attention to wildlife warning signs, as these do indicate wildlife collision hot spots;
- Stay within the recommended speed limit, and reduce your speed in areas of limited visibility;
- Be vigilant and scan the road shoulders for animals, particularly at dawn and dusk;
- Keep an eye out for shining eyes on the side of the road, highlighted by your headlights;
- Watch for flashing brake lights on the car ahead, possibly indicating wildlife on the road; and
- Do not honk or flash your lights at wildlife – rather than warning them away, this will only startle them or potentially cause them to panic and bolt into further danger.
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.