According to a study conducted by Culture Change, a total of more than 400 million innocent street animals are killed by motorists annually in the U.S., while each day, approximately 190 million motor vehicles are on the road and more than 1 million animals are hit by these vehicles.Although the victims vary from mammals to reptiles, this diversity of species does not change the fact that so many animals are suffering each day because of the human species.
As the study by the organization states, the killing of one animal can lead to a domino effect: “On a Sunday evening, a snake is receiving warmth from the asphalt when a speeding car races past it, splitting its body in half. Monday morning, a robin notices the snake and is just about to take a bite when a drunk driver carelessly hits it while speeding away. Midday, a raven flying overhead spots both the robin and snake and swoops down to its meal. Just as it reaches the ground, SPLAT. A truck smashes the body of the raven and kills it.”
Because of the killing of just one “small” animal, a whole chain of road accidents can occur. “These animals do not know any better, and it is up to us to watch out for these creatures and keep them safe,” said Powell, a freshman at Palos Verdes High School.
In addition to this deadly domino effect, hit-and-run drivers are often another major cause of this gargantuan toll of deaths. According to an article by The Dodo, drivers feel sympathy for these bodies on the ground but never stop to check if the animals still have a chance of living. As a result, even those who are still alive and have hope of living can never recover. “When we see an animal lying on the ground, we often just shake our heads and drive right past it,” said animal blogger Kim Johnson. “How do we know that these animals are alive? They may just be unable to move because of their injuries.”
Johnson’s comment is an aspect of injured street animals not often considered. It is true that a lot of drivers simply drive past the animal after five seconds of sympathy and prayer. Instead of ignoring the injured, it is important to take meaningful action.
Although it may be difficult to take direct and effective action to this issue, it is possible to give these animals hope and help them regain their health. “Calling animal control or 911 is the best way to take action,” said Johnson. “Just don’t leave the animal until someone comes to rescue it.”
Not all drivers may be in the situation to help an injured animal or even notice that they hit one. What everyone can do, however, is be more aware of and compassionate toward these innocent street animals while prevention is possible. Our contributions can help protect important species.