EL DORADO COUNTY (CBS13) – A new report from UC Davis shows wildlife vehicle collisions on the rise. California spent nearly $300 million last year, cleaning up after these accidents.
“When you hit it, you're like ‘Oh my God’ because you think you hit something, but it was a deer,” said Martha Chapman, who lives in El Dorado Hills.READ MORE: Hamilton Fans Evacuated After Fire Alarm Goes Off In Sacramento Convention Center
Every 1.5 days, there is a wildlife collision on Highway 50. Between damage to the vehicle, medical expenses and the cost of first responders, California paid $276 million in 2016 for state highway accidents.
“You go into the country roads and other places in the state, and you could probably add another $300 million to that,” said Fraser Shilling, co-director of the UC DAVIS Road Ecology Center.
The worst areas for wildlife collisions are the Bay Area and the Foothills. On Highway 50 alone, the accidents cost $118,000 per mile across 54 miles of road.
“It’s a classic case of commuter traffic going through wildlife habitat,” Shilling said.READ MORE: Missing Marysville Teen Carmen Miller May Be Victim Of Sex Trafficking, Police Say
One solution is to build more wildlife underpasses and overpasses around highways. They allow animals to pass under the roads, keeping drivers and wildlife safe.
“If you build something like that, wildlife will use it right away,” Shilling said.
Shilling says building an average underpass or overpass would cost $1 million to $2 million, and they would likely pay for themselves in a few years.
But after living in Placerville for 12 years, Mitch Jones says it’s up to drivers to take a little more initiative behind the wheel.MORE NEWS: Proposed Campground Expansion At Auburn State Recreation Area Draws Concern Over Wildfire Risk
“Slow down a little bit!” he said.