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It's a (highway) jungle out there

Joan Morris, The Mercury News on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

As if Bay Area drivers didn't have enough to contend with dodging other vehicles, in recent weeks a number of animals have joined the confusion, including a mountain lion that was struck and killed recently in San Mateo.

California Highway Patrol said the cougar was hit by an unknown vehicle in the southbound lane of Interstate 280 in San Mateo County, near State Route 92.

It was the second mountain lion to be killed this week -- a mountain lion wearing a tracking collar was shot and killed n the mountains just north of Los Angeles -- and the second this year to be killed by a vehicle. In July, a mountain lion was hit by a car on northbound Highway 29, south of the town of Lakeport, injuring 9 people.

Recently, a truck carrying hundreds of live chickens enroute to a slaughter facility was involved in a crash in the westbound lanes of Interstate 80, near the San Pablo Dam Road exit. The truck then caught fire and CHP shut down the highway for about eight hours as they investigated, cleaned up the mess and rounded up escaped chickens.

Many of the chickens died in the crash and subsequent fire; survivors were taken in by Contra Costa Animal Control.

Just days earlier, on Sept. 3, chickens at the Bay Bridge toll plaza slowed the commute, and on Highway 101, commuters in San Jose had to dodge a goose that was wandering down the highway until a CHP motorcycle officer encouraged it to exit off the freeway.

A goose also was responsible for a power outage in Palo Alto Aug. 26, that temporarily cut power to 3,000 resident when the bird flew into power lines.

Drivers on Highway 99 northwest of Fresno were slowing down and rubbing their eyes when an emu decided to hoof it along the shoulder of the busy roadway. Madera County Animal Services took the bird into custody, unharmed, and the traffic continued on.


Then there was the leashed cat found trembling on the ledge of the Bay Bridge in August, which also snarled traffic as officials worked to rescue it.

It hasn't been all birds and felines that are messing up the drive. In April, a young sea lion was seen on northbound Highway 101 in South San Francisco, causing traffic to slow until the animal was rescued by the CHP and taken to Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.

Wildlife experts warn that it's likely to get worse as the days get shorter, Daylight Savings Time ends and more people drive home in the dark.

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