Clackamas County drivers face hazards beyond cell phones, teenage joyriders and drunken drivers — ducks and geese are increasingly causing crashes and backups.

On Sunday, May 26, Milwaukie police responded to three different calls concerning traffic hazards because of birds attempting to cross roads.

by: PHOTO BY: KYLIE WRAY - Geese often cross the busy Milwaukie Marketplace parking lot and many well-trafficked intersections in North Clackamas and Oregon City.Milwaukie Officer Ulli Neitch, a member of the Oregon Humane Society’s Technical Animal Rescue Team, responded to a call that weekend of a goose that had been hit by a car and was still in the road.

“His injuries were too severe to survive,” she said. “He was transported to a vet for humane euthanasia.”

When the injuries are treatable, police officers who have wrangled injured geese will transport them to the Audubon Society of Portland.

Waterfowl crossing the roadways is an ongoing problem for areas like Milwaukie and Oregon City with their large sprawling green lawns and proximity to the Willamette River.

“This is a concerning road hazard, not only in Milwaukie, but in many cities in the Portland metro area,” Neitch said. “Flocks of geese, followed closely by their fuzz-covered babies may choose to walk, en masse across our roadways to ‘get to the other side’ where the proverbial grass is always greener.”

According to Lacy Campbell, Audubon Wildlife Care Center operations manager, they more often get baby birds, such as ducks and geese, that were following their mothers across the road and are injured. Sometimes police officers and Public Works employees are dispatched to help ducklings that have fallen through storm-drain grates.

When a bird arrives at the center, it is examined and its injuries are assessed. If the injuries are not treatable, the bird is humanely euthanized. But if the injuries are treatable, the bird is taken care of until it’s healthy and then released back to where it was found, possibly in danger once again.

“Thankfully, most drivers are patient and respectful of wildlife in urban areas. Most drivers slow down and stop when necessary to allow these birds safe passage,” Neitch said. “However, there are a number of fowl fatalities and bird strikes caused by run-ins with automobiles. This is the unfortunate downside to wildlife in urban areas.”

According to Neitch, it has been suggested by citizens that roadside fencing could be a solution. However, tall concrete barricades only make crossing roads more dangerous for the birds.

“The geese simply walk around these barricades, followed closely by their flightless young,” Neitch said. “Once led onto the roadway, the barricade has effectively blocked any avenue of escape for the young birds.”

Campbell advises mainly that drivers should be aware that there’s wildlife in the area, while Neitch suggests drivers do a little more for those waterfowl who don’t seem to understand cars.

“The best recommendation to drivers who commute through areas sometimes congested with spring waterfowl — maintain the proper distance behind the vehicle in front,” she said. “Most crashes are caused because drivers follow too closely.”

News Editor Raymond Rendleman contributed to this report.

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