Monday, February 29, 2016

Nature's Antibiotic- Usnea Lichen




This lichen, sometimes called Old Man's Beard, is in the genus Usnea, which contains over 600 species, all of which have the same medicinal properties! It grows in wet, cold areas on dead wood, often at higher elevations, although it can be found anywhere in the world. 

I was hiking recently, tracking some bobcats, when I noticed a large piece of usnea on the ground. I looked up and sure enough, there was tons of it growing in the trees above me. Being careful not to take more than I needed, I grabbed a small handful and put it in my pocket for later. I believe that Usnea is fairly uncommon to see throughout the world, but I know that here in New England it is a rare and threatened species. If harvesting Usnea, please only take what you need. Usnea should not be harvested for sale!!! 

I had known of Usnea before because Zak likes to use it on wooden masks that he makes because it stays alive and keeps growing over time, but I never knew that it was a healing herb. I first heard of its properties in the book Herbal Antibiotics, 2nd Edition: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-resistant Bacteria by Stephen Harrod Buhner. According to Buhner, the herbal actions of Usnea include analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimitotic, antineoplastic (cancer), antioxidant, antiparasitic, antiproliferative (cancer), antiprotozoal, antiseptic, antiviral, drug synergistic, immunostimulant, and an inhibitor of biofilm formation! He also states that Usnea has traditionally been used throughout the world to treat skin infections, abscesses, upper respiratory and lung infections, and fungal infections. Buhner also cites a very old treatment for large wounds in which the lichen is soaked in mashed garlic and then placed in the wound to soak up the blood and prevent infection. I highly recommend Buhner's book as it goes into extreme detail about many different natural alternatives to antibiotics while still maintaining readability for the average layperson. To learn more about usnea, and many other herbal antibiotics, check out the link to the book below:

 

You do not have to worry about drying Usnea. It is already very dry  and will not mold if you leave it. If anything, it may even keep growing!


While a tea can be made from this lichen, it is best to make a tincture from it as you get more bang for your buck, using less plant material and making more potent medicine. To do this, simply  put the lichen in a mason jar and cover with at least 80 proof alcohol, although 100 proof is best. Leave it in the alcohol for a month, shaking daily. After a month, or longer if you prefer, strain the lichen out and transfer your finished tincture into clean container(s). It is best to either use brown glass bottles or to store in a cool, dark place as the sunlight can affect the effectiveness of the tincture. I like to store all of my herbal remedies in a vintage bread box so they are out of the sun. 

Can't find any Usnea growing near you? No problem! You can order it online from Mountain Rose Herbs at this link:

Click Here to Order Usnea


Disclaimer: This blog is just my own opinion, nothing more. While I try my hardest, everything may not be completely accurate or complete. Sorry, I'm only human, so do not hold me accountable for anything you do to harm yourself or the world around you. I do make money from this blog (seriously not very much at all guys). If you click on any of the links in my blog I may make money from it. I'm not sponsored by any of these people I just honestly love these products and want to give you the resources to find them. I am not a medical practitioner; consult a health professional before using any herbal remedies. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Chaga Tincture GIVEAWAY!!!



To celebrate the release of our first product, Stone Axe Herbals is giving away one 1 oz Double Extracted Chaga Tincture to a lucky winner! Follow the instructions below to enter.

Don't think you'll win? No problem, you can purchase it at this link: https://www.etsy.com/listing/270071946/double-extracted-chaga-mushroom-tincture?ref=shop_home_active_1

Want to learn more about chaga? Check out my other two posts about it here and here.




a Rafflecopter giveaway




























Disclaimer: This blog is just my own opinion, nothing more. While I try my hardest, everything may not be completely accurate or complete. Sorry, I'm only human, so do not hold me accountable for anything you do to harm yourself or the world around you. I do make money from this blog (seriously not very much at all guys). If you click on any of the links in my blog I may make money from it. I'm not sponsored by any of these people I just honestly love these products and want to give you the resources to find them.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How to Make Chaga Tincture (Double Extraction Method)





In my last post How to Harvest and Process Chaga Mushroom I discussed how to get chaga to the point where you could make a tea or tincture with it. To see that post click here



I am now selling Double Extracted Chaga Tincture! Visit my Etsy page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/StoneAxeHerbals?ref=l2-shopheader-name



We are also giving away a free 1 oz bottle of chaga tincture to one lucky winner!! Check it out here: http://stoneaxeherbals.blogspot.com/2016/02/chaga-tincture-giveaway.html


While chaga tea is a lovely and wonderful beverage in its own right, it is not as potent or convenient as using a tincture. Here is the recipe that I use:

You will need:
  • Ground Chaga Mushroom
  • 80-100 Proof Alcohol
  • A Mason Jar 
  • A Filter 
  • A Crockpot or Stovetop

Chaga, and most medicinal mushrooms in general, have some medicinal constituents that are water soluble and some that are alcohol soluble. In order to obtain the highest and most varied amount of these constituents it is vital that your tincture contains both. Here is how to do that:

1. Fill a mason jar with crushed or ground chaga mushroom. Remember that the finer the chaga is, the  easier it will be to extract its medicinal properties. Cover with the highest proof alcohol you can find. The minimum you should use is 80 proof, but 100 proof is much better. Having a higher alcohol content also allows you to draw out more of the medicine. Cover and let sit for a month, shaking daily.

You can stop here if you want, but it will not be as potent if you do not continue. If you do not do the next step, you will have to add water until the tincture is 25% alcohol.

2. After a month, or longer if you wish, strain out all of the ground chaga and set it aside. Measure the amount of tincture that you have (you will have lost some in the process most likely).

3. Take your ground chaga and put it in a crock pot or in a pot on the stove. Measure out twice the amount of water as you have tincture. Pour the water over the ground chaga. Stick a wooden chopstick in the water and chaga mixture and mark the water level on it with a knife. Also mark a spot halfway down from the first so you know when your water has evaporated by half. Bring to a boil. You're basically creating chaga tea. Boil the chaga until the liquid is at half the level it was when you added it (up to the second mark you made on the stick). Now you have as much chaga tea as you do chaga tincture. Let it cool. You can now go to step four or you can add all of the water that evaporated back and repeat it one or even two more times.

4. Strain out the chaga from the liquid again. Add your tea into the alcohol tincture until you reach an alcohol content of 25%. If you used 100 proof, or 50%, alcohol this should be easy. Simply dilute it by half by mixing equal parts tincture and tea. If you used 80 proof you're going to have to do some math.

Your chaga tincture is now complete and shelf stable. Transfer it into dark colored glass bottles and store in a cool dark place.

You can purchase brown glass tincture bottles at these two sites:

                                         Mountain Rose Herbs. A Herbs, Health & Harmony Com


Consult your physician before using if you are pregnant or nursing or on blood thinners. Keep out of reach of children. 


Looking for some more resources about chaga? Check out these great books!
                    

If you would like to purchase chaga or tincture bottles I recommend getting it from Moutain Rose Herbs at these links:

Click Here to Order Chaga Mushroom

Click Here to Order Tincture Bottles


This post was featured on the Murano Chicken Farm's Saturday Blog Hop! Check it out here:
http://www.muranochickenfarm.com/2016/02/simple-saturdays-blog-hop_27.html

Disclaimer: This blog is just my own opinion, nothing more. While I try my hardest, everything may not be completely accurate or complete. Sorry, I'm only human, so do not hold me accountable for anything you do to harm yourself or the world around you. I do make money from this blog (seriously not very much at all guys). If you click on any of the links in my blog I may make money from it. I'm not sponsored by any of these people I just honestly love these products and want to give you the resources to find them.

Mountain Rose Herbs. A Herbs, Health & Harmony Com

Monday, February 22, 2016

Tracking River Otter!








Unsurprisingly, our hike yesterday started off with spotting some of the smallest creatures around: snow fleas! Do you see all of the tiny black specks in the picture below? No?



Here's a closer look:


That is a snow flea, also known as a spring tail because of the two long tail-like appendages that they tuck under their abdomens. They keep these "tails", called furcula, tucked away until they want to move, at which point they release them, launching themselves into the air every which way. These tiny hexapods (snow fleas are not insects, nor are they fleas) are active all year long. Springtails are very, very common and can be found any time of the year, although they are easiest to spot in the winter against the white snow. During this time, they only come out on warm days to feed on dead plant material, algae, fungus, microscopic organisms, pollen, bacteria, and sap. Snow fleas are able to withstand direct contact with the snow because their bodies contain a protein which grabs ice crystals and prevents them from growing, acting as a sort of antifreeze. Snow fleas are not parasitic or detrimental to humans or animals in any way; in fact, they are useful decomposers that help break down plant matter and add nutrients back into the forest soil. 




Although fascinating, snow flea tracking does not usually lead anywhere so we moved on. We saw the tracks of our good friend porcupine again and decided to follow them again to see if we could actually get a glimpse of the creature we were following in the last tracking post Tracking Porcupines (And Other Fun Stuff). We wandered back deeper into the wood into the realm of beeches and moose maples and almost immediately I found this:




and this:




and this:




and this!: 



There were many more too, all within 20 ft of each other. Most of the trees that had been scraped and broken were moose maples, a favorite tree of their namesake, moose. It is true that deer and other animals will scrape and break these trees but most of them were broken well above my head, too high for a deer to reach. I can't tell for sure but I believe that a bull moose came through here in the fall rut, hormonal and frustrated and knocked these saplings over with his antlers. It most likely happened months ago, though, so I kept on. Zak kept following his porcupine but I found some nice raccoon tracks so I decided to see what the coons were up to last night. 




Raccoon tracks are fairly easy to distinguish because of their long, distinct toes and their waddling pattern of walk. They waddle much less than porcupines but they do not hop around like weasels. 

I found a raccoon highway of sorts so I called Zak over to follow it. The porcupine will have to wait for another day (it will definitely still be there, nearby its den, as they do not move around too much). 



I wonder who lives in this hole. Flying squirrel maybe. 




As I followed the raccoons down into the thick conifers I found some interesting scat, probably a couple of days old, with raccoon tracks going over it. The tracks of the animal that urinated here probably melted. 




And then I found the culprit a couple of yards away:




These are snowshoe hare tracks. You can tell that the hare was bounding quickly as the hind feet are in front of the two front feet. This is not the order that they landed in. The hare most likely landed on its front feet and brought its hind feet forward, giving it more leverage to spring it's body forward quickly. Snowshoe hare urine is easy to identify as it is almost always bright orange, or even red. Although it can be easy to mistake for blood, it isn't, the orange color comes from the plants that the hare has been eating. 

We continued to follow the raccoon highway, which was steadily growing larger, as it led us down a steep hill. On the slippery clamber down (mostly on my behind in my case), Zak noticed this:




This lichen, sometimes called Old Man's Beard, is in the genus Usnea, which contains 600 species. It grows in wet, cold areas on dead wood, often at higher elevations, although it can be found anywhere in the world. I had been looking for Usnea and was planning a trip to the one place we knew that it grew, Mt. Moosilauke in New Hampshire. I decided not to harvest any of this lichen, though, as it is rare here in the Northeast and the population that I found of it was fairly small. The reason I was looking for it was because of its extraordinary medicinal properties. I had known of Usnea before because Zak likes to use it on wooden masks that he makes because it stays alive and keeps growing over time, but I never knew that it was a healing herb. I first heard of it's properties in the book Herbal Antibiotics, 2nd Edition: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-resistant Bacteria by Stephen Harrod Buhner. According to Buhner, the herbal actions of Usnea include analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimitotic, antineoplastic (cancer), antioxidant, antiparasitic, antiproliferative (cancer), antiprotozoal, antiseptic, antiviral, drug synergistic, immunostimulant, and an inhibitor of biofilm formation! He also states that Usnea has traditionally been used throughout the world to treat skin infections, abscesses, upper respiratory and lung infections, and fungal infections. Buhner also cites a very old treatment for large wounds in which the lichen is soaked in mashed garlic and then placed in the wound to soak up the blood and prevent infection. I highly recommend Buhner's book as it goes into extreme detail about many different natural alternatives to antibiotics while still maintaining readability for the average layperson. To learn more about usnea, and many other herbal antibiotics, you can click the ad below:

 


Usnea aside, we kept walking (or more like sliding uncontrollably) down the hillside until we reached  a new beaver pond. Looking across the ice, we noticed some tracks and a long slide. This caught our attention immediately as there are few animals that slide, namely mink, and these tracks and the slide itself was WAY too big to be a mink. Beavers will sometimes slide into the water, usually on muddy banks, but cannot slide across the ice like this creature did. The only option that was left was river otter, but they are very rare here and it never crossed our minds that we would ever see one or even any sign of one up in the hills of Northern Vermont. The other clue that told us this was an otter was the way the tracks were spaced from one another. You can see that there are clusters of two tracks very far away from one another. This is a classic example of what a member of the weasel family looks like running. Looking at the picture below, can you imagine how it might have bounded across the ice before sliding on its stomach?




You can see here that  it was sliding in and out of the water. Otters will maintain these holes all year long so that they can escape from predators quickly by diving under the water. Otters have no problem swimming in icy water as their dense fur keeps them extremely warm, the same fur that unfortunately has caused many of these playful creatures to be slaughtered. Otters have more hairs on one square inch of their body than the average human has on their entire head, making it some of the densest in the world. 

(There were also some other, smaller tracks coming from the hole in the ice. They are probably muskrat, maybe even mink. I did not pay much attention because I was so excited about the possibility of an otter. )




We followed the tracks where they came up out of the water again. Although they were still unclear, at this point, we were almost certain that it was an otter. 












Can you see the webbing between the toes?



A very wide slide:




We followed the otter tracks for probably about half an hour from pond to pond, when we ran across this little guy. This is a mink hole, only a couple of inches in diameter, going into the soil beneath a tree. There is one very distinct mink track a couple of inches from the entrance. 



All of these animals were here because of the series of dozens of ponds. They were all using the water for food and safety, raccoon, mink, muskrat, moose, and otter. And the only reason the ponds were there is because of the beavers. Although we haven't seen any beaver tracks at this location yet, we know they are there because of their dams, lodges, and of course, trees they have cut down, like the large yellow birch pictured below that they never quite finished. It is apparent to me that the beavers have been in this area for a very long time and their population is quite large.  





We lost the otter tracks but we did find this: 



Deer hair. Although it doesn't seem like much, anytime you find this much hair, the deer is almost definitely dead. The hair was covered lightly in snow so it probably died a day or two ago, but there were fresh coyote tracks from today everywhere, and I mean everywhere! Oftentimes, the actual deer, or parts of it, are very close by, hidden somewhere in the brush. We knew that parts of it were still around because of the large amount of chickadees, crows, and ravens about. Oftentimes, gatherings of these birds will lead you to something dead. Finding a dead deer is very exciting as you can often scavenge some great stuff, such as bones and sinew for tool and jewelry making, toes for rattles, or even whole skulls and antlers! We soon found a small piece of bone so we were sure the carcass was somewhere close by. We split up and followed the tracks every which way, but even after half an hour of searching the quarter mile area, all we found was more hair and some stomach contents. These coyotes were smart, and they were not giving up their kill easily. We decided it was probably best just to leave it and let some other animals have a meal. Although we didn't find the deer, I did find where the otter tracks picked up, and the chase was on again!




We followed it from pond to pond and then it started to do something really strange. It started climbing frozen waterfalls, going uphill! In the middle of the bottom quarter of the photograph above, you can see a slide and tracks going up. The water here was not very frozen, and still moving quickly under the ice, and sides of the ravine were much too steep to walk on so we had to track the otter from the ridge above for a long while. After climbing for hours, we finally reached more beaver ponds, culminating in one final and very large beaver pond with open water. We lost the tracks here as the otter went into the water, but I suspect that this pond was its final destination. Zak believes that it may have been seeking out a mate as it is very unusual to see a solitary otter (they are very family oriented). I think that it may have simply been seeking out a large pond with better food sources. I have a feeling it knew where it was going and probably makes this trip often. I guess we'll never know. We spent over four hours tracking the otter for miles, often jogging, and now we found ourselves at a road again, lost and very far away from my car. It was getting dark and for the first time all day, we snapped into reality and realized how hungry and tired we were. We chose a random direction and followed the road. After half an hour we knew where we were, we also knew that we were going the wrong direction, so we had to turn around. It took us another hour and a half or so to walk home (it was closer to walk home than to walk back to my car). We were cold and exhausted but made it back just in time for dinner! This is a day that neither of us will forget for a very, very long time. 

Did you like this post? Do you want to learn more about the living beings around you? Do you want to see more posts like this? Check out Zak's favorite book: Naturally Curious: A Photographic Field Guide and Month-By-Month Journey Through the Fields, Woods, and Marshes of New Englandby Vermont local Mary Holland! I get a small portion of the sales accumulated by all ads on this blog so go ahead and check it out, learn something new, and support this blog while doing so. I'd really appreciate it.

 



Disclaimer: This blog is just my own opinion, nothing more. While I try my hardest, everything may not be completely accurate or complete, I'm only human, so do not hold me accountable for anything you do to harm yourself or the world around you. I do make money from this blog (seriously not very much at all guys). If you click on any of the links in my blog I may make money from it. I'm not sponsored by any of these people I just honestly love these products and want to give you the resources to find them. 



Thursday, February 18, 2016

Picking up Roadkill: is it Legal?



Update: After spending the last several months making calls and emails to every single state fish and wildlife, I have compiled a list of the roadkill laws in the majority of the states. Some F+W's failed to get back to me so if your state is not on this list, that is why. To read this list click HERE.

Two weeks ago I received an email from another student (this is my final semester studying Agroanthropology and Draft Horse Management at Sterling College) saying that a deer was hit in front of her dorm, the authorities were already notified, and they were coming to dispose of it in the morning. Folks around here know that I always have an eye out for roadkill and I've gotten a few good tips here and there, but never a lead this amazing! 

It was already 9:30 or 10 pm, but Zak and I ran over as quickly as we could. We found the deer just 20 or 30 minutes after it died. It was a huge doe, strong and healthy with no external damage from the collision. We admired her for a few minutes in awe, not quite believing that she wad dead and that we now had a whole deer in our possession. Being a very cold night, we decided to stash the deer close by, sliding her on the snow under the boughs of a small stand of conifers 20 ft from the road. We hid the deer to prevent it from being taken by anyone else and to get it away from the road ( I know, I know, most people do not have to worry about roadkill theft, but I live in a VERY rural area). We also did not want any carnivores going to eat the deer getting hit on the road overnight. We didn't need any more roadkill on our hands than we already had. 

In the morning, I called the state police and asked for a tag so that I could take the deer legally, but they don't take that kindly to out of staters and flatlanders so I had to have Zak call it in. Being a Vermont resident, all he had to do was give them his name and phone number and they gave him a tag number for free. 

In the state of Vermont, any species, except those that are federally protected, can be taken after a collision with a vehicle. Furbearers (beaver, raccoon, mink, fox, coyote, otter, fisher, bobcat etc) and big game animals (deer, moose, bear, and turkey) are legal to take but one must contact Fish and Wildlife to obtain permission and a tag. A warden may come out and see the animal before issuing a tag to be sure that it was not killed illegally (no one came out to see the deer). 

One may begin to process the animal before a warden comes but the tag number must be in a clearly visible place with all parts of the animal. If in doubt, it is best to keep the head and cape intact and attached to each other, and your name and address/phone number attached. You could also take many photographs of the animal from all angles before doing anything with it. 

Other animals that have a legal season and bag limit (grouse, squirrel, rabbit, etc)  and those without protection in Vermont (woodchuck, red squirrel, etc) may be picked up without contacting anyone, but it is always best just to check in first. Reports of wildlife-vehicle collisions are often helpful to Fish and Wildlife so that they may estimate population size, travel routes, and range. 

These are the laws in Vermont. Other states have different laws, many are similar to the laws here. The one law that is the same in every single state is the prohibition of possessing a federally protected  species (mostly birds of prey and songbirds) without a special permit (these permits can be obtained by educational institutions, such as schools and museums). Click this sentence for a list of all protected species. 

It is always best to check with your state Fish and Wildlife Department to obtain your local regulations regarding roadkill. Do this BEFORE you want to pick anything up. It is much better to know the laws ahead of time. If you anticipate collecting any roadkill, keep Fish and Wildlife's phone number in your vehicle so you can call and get a tag immediately. I'd also suggest keeping garbage bags, gloves, and a knife. 

This post is the second in a long series I will be doing about roadkill, so if you liked this post, keep your eye out for more. In the meantime, there are several books that everyone and anyone who deals with processing any animals (farmed, hunted, or roadkilled) should own. The first is Extreme Survival Meat: A Guide for Safe Scavenging, Pemmican Making, and Roadkill by Tamarack Song. This book discusses food safety when consuming wild meats (although I have found that it really applies to all meat), as well as tips for using and cooking the ENTIRE animal. 




The second book that should be owned by hunters, farmers, scavengers, and homesteaders alike is Basic Butchering of Livestock & Game by John J. Mettler. I can't even describe to you how useful I have found this bible of butchery to be. It describes the breaking down of the most common farm-raised and hunted creatures in the utmost detail. It is definitely worth every penny.




Disclaimer: This blog is just my own opinion, nothing more. While I try my hardest, everything may not be completely accurate or complete, I'm only human, so do not hold me accountable for anything you do to harm yourself or the world around you. I do make money from this blog (seriously not very much at all guys). If you click on any of the links in my blog I may make money from it. I'm not sponsored by any of these people I just honestly love these products and want to give you the resources to find them. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Preventing Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions: These 12 Tips Could Save Your Life





Researchers estimate that 1 million vertebrates, including livestock and pets, are hit by vehicles on american roads every day; that equals a rate of one every 11.5 seconds (Murphy 2005).

Collisions with wildlife are not only treacherous for the animal; deer, and other large animals, can do considerable damage to vehicles and passengers. An average of 26,647 humans are injured every year in Animal Vehicle Collisions (AVCs) in the United States (average for 2001–2002) and of those injuries 200 result in human fatality (FHWA 2008). The average medical costs from hitting a deer is $2,702 and the vehicle repairs cost an average of $1,840, not to mention the cost of towing and law enforcement assistance (FWHA 2008). While these are the average, the cost can be significantly higher, especially if a larger animal, such as a moose, elk, or even a horse, is hit. Vehicular damage occurs more than 90% of the time when a deer is hit and almost 100% of the time there is substantial damage when there is a collision with a larger animal, which increases the average cost to $3-4,000 in vehicle repair (FWHA 8). Collisions may cost drivers even more if injury or travel delays result in missed work. Drivers are not the only people who suffer from an accident with wildlife though, public agencies face costs associated with investigating and controlling traffic after a WVC, carcass removal, and may lose the monetary value of the animal, such as hunting fees (FWHA 9). It is estimated that the cost of WVCs to society annually is  $8,388,000,000 (FWHA 9).

Almost everyone has hit an animal with their vehicle or been a passenger in a vehicle that has. Many of us have even lost a pet or even livestock to a collision with a car. Whether it's the tragic loss of a 4 legged family member or a valuable animal, roadkill can be gut wrenching and even mean the difference between making ends meet this month. So, here's 12 tips to prevent hitting animals (these could save you a lot of money, or even your life):



  1. Scan roadsides for eyeshine at night.
    Many animals, and deer in particular, have a structure in the back of their eye called a tapedum lucidum. This small feature plays an important role for the animal, it reflects any light that enters the eye and reflects it back. This way, the animal can see twice as much light as a human, giving it much better night vision. The tapedum lucidum is the reason why many animal's eyes will glow if you shine a light at them at night. It is also the cause of the famous "deer in the headlights" effect. If you've ever looked into headlights before, you know its blinding, now imagine if it was twice as bright and you will understand why a deer could be overwhelmed. While driving at night, scan the roadsides for two glowing eyes that will alert you to the presence of an animal. Seeing an animal even a moment before a collision could mean the difference between life and death for you and the creature.

  2. If you see one animal, you may see more.  
    Many animals, including many large mammals, such as deer and elk, travel together. If you see one deer cross the road far in front of you, slow down, more may cross as you get closer.

  3. Do not swerve to miss an animal, it will only confuse it more and could send you into the ditch or oncoming traffic. Slow down when you see an animal by the road. If an animal is in front of your vehicle, slow down as much as possible. If there is no way to avoid hitting a large animal, release the brake a moment before the collision so the nose of your vehicle is higher and the animal is less likely to go through the windshield and cause human injuries.

  4. Use your high beams whenever possible.
    Using your high beams will allow you to keep an eye out for eyeshine and animals by the side of the road.

  5. Follow the speed limit.
    This one sort of goes without saying. The slower you are going the safer you and the wildlife is. You will have more time to react if an animal crossing in front of your vehicle. 
  6. Know where animals cross, be extra cautious when you see animal crossing signs, when a road is in a habitat transition zone, or when you are near a wetland. The highway department does not just put up wildlife crossing signs for fun, if you see one it means that an animal has been hit there before and it has caused serious damage to vehicles and people, often on more than one occasion. Also be cautious in areas where there is a transition between one habitat and another, especially if they are on opposite sides of the road. Wildlife often travels between these areas to find different resources. One example would be if the right side of the road had a hemlock forest and the left side of the road was a field. Deer may cross the road to go feed in the field but cross back to bed down in the shelter of the woods. Many animals also rely on wetlands and are often hit on roads near them. This applies to reptiles and amphibians especially, such as turtles, snakes, and salamanders, that cannot move quickly or may use the heat of the road to bask. If you live in an area where moose are present, be very cautious around wetlands! Moose pose extreme danger to motorists.

  7. Be cautious at dawn and dusk, avoid driving in low visibility as much as possible. Wildlife moves around the most during dawn and dusk. These times are when the majority of wildlife-vehicle collisions occur and driving then should be avoided as much as possible. If the weather is rainy or foggy, you are less likely to hit an animal because they tend to hunker down during bad weather but if the visibility is low for some other reason, such as being in a hilly area, be alert.

  8. Know what time of year animals move around in your area. In most areas with four seasons, this occurs in spring and fall.

  9. Scan roadsides for animals at all times, do not get distracted by electronic devices, the radio, etc.

  10. Move animals off of the road as far as possible (when it is safe to pull over). If it is a living animal, stop your car and usher it off of the road to prevent other motorists from hitting it. If you have a passenger in the vehicle, ask them to direct traffic for you. This particularly applies to reptiles and amphibians. Turtles and salamanders can be gently and cautiously picked and moved in the direction they are going (do not pick up snapping turtles or poisonous snakes!!!) If the animal is already dead, it is important to still move it away from the road in order to prevent scavengers from getting hit. If you are concerned about touching the animal you can use gloves, or if you do not have gloves grab the animal by its feet (only pick an animal up by its feet if it is dead). Wash your hands after handling it.

  11. Alert the authorities if you see an animal that has been hit but is still alive. Not only is it inhumane to let an animal suffer, it could be hit again if it is still near the road.

  12. DO NOT assume that an animal will move out of the way. Most animals do not understand the flow of traffic, if you are moving toward them in your vehicle it is likely that they are panicked and confused. ALWAYS SLOW DOWN AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE until it has moved away. Vehicles move much faster and are much larger than any natural predator and animals are not evolved to deal with this. For example, deer's eyes do not move like ours do. In order to see something differently they must move their head. To detect a predator they look for side to side motion. If your car is merely moving straight towards them, it may not register that it is in motion. To the deer, it may seem as though your vehicle is just getting bigger and bigger instead of coming closer. Birds are another prime example of this. Birds have a set distance at which they fly away from a predator, BUT cars move much faster than most predators. Whether a vehicle is moving 10 mph or 80 mph, the bird will still fly away when the vehicle is the same distance away. If that distance is only 10 ft away, the bird will get hit if the car is moving 80 mph but may not if it is only going 10 mph.

Murphy, Eliza. "Caught in the Headlights." High Country News. N.p., 7 Feb. 2005. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.

Clevenger, Tony, Brian L. Cypher, Adam Ford, Marcel Huijser, Bruce F. Leeson, Bethanie Walder, and Chuck Walters. "Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reduction Study Report to Congress." US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (2008): n. pag. Aug. 2008. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.



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