Playing Pheasant Dodgeball

Last week I took a drive north to Her- man twice, once in late afternoon and then again in early morning. On both occasions I had to dodge animals on the road and it was very unsettling.

The late afternoon drive was basically nice as there were lots of pheasants out on the sides of the roads. However, as I got further in the drive, the numbers increased and so did their bravery. They would dart across the road in front of the vehicle in an instant and I found myself swerving to miss them.

Evidently these pheasants had been playing dodgeball with vehicles for some time as the number of dead pheasants
was also increasing. It was sad to see, but I also realized that this winter is hard on them no matter what and the animals are taking the risks to find food.

By the time I left Herman to return to Morris, the pheasants were safely back in their secure habitats and hopefully had found enough food to sustain them for another day.

Early the next morning I had to head the same direction for a 7 a.m. meeting. This time the road was free of pheasants so I was more relaxed. That soon ended when a deer bounded out in front of me and I had to slam on the brakes to miss it. With my heart pounding, I was able to complete the trip unscathed.

I started to wonder why these animals are beginning to frequent our highways where it is obviously not safe for them. I started to think about a cat I had years ago that absolutely would not leave me alone when she was hungry. She would wake me up in bed, twisted and turned around my feet and pretty much trip me as I went to the cupboard to get her food. She was hungry and wanted me to know that it was feeding time.

Is that what these wild animals are trying to tell us? They want to let humans know that they are hungry and need our help. A lot of information you read tells you not to feed the wild animals as they start to rely on that. However, at this point in the season, dumping out a little bit of corn somewhere away from the highway may be okay and keep these animals alive and safe.

If I had some corn to share, that is what I would do. Dump a little bit here and there on a side road or approach. Even though I enjoy watching the animals, I would prefer to keep them off the high- way and away from my vehicle.