This blog post doesn't have any photos associated with it. The photos I would include would make this story much sadder than it already is. We all hate seeing dead animals on the side of the road. But those feelings go from sadness to rage when you see an animal killed by a reckless driver.
Sunrise. My favorite time to be in the park; a park that has 10 million people within striking distance of it and sees 2.5 million visitors a year. Yet every sunrise I am out there alone. I can go anywhere, to any lookout, to any of my favorite animal viewing locations and be alone. On this particular morning I set off with my cameras at the ready, sipping my piping hot coffee on the drive in. Within 30 seconds of turning onto Sir Francis Drake Blvd, the main artery into the park, I am being tailgated by a car that I recognize. I step on the gas slightly to reach the speed limit of 35 MPH and continue my drive. The tailgater does the same, keeping the same tiny distance from the back of my car.
When I reach a reasonable place to take my right tires onto the shoulder, the car rockets by me as if to tell me to take my Sunday morning drive somewhere else. It's not the first time this has happened to me in the park. In fact, it happens often. I always wonder what the hurry could possibly be entering a National Park.
I take the next few curves at 20 MPH, driving by a feeding great blue heron and a great white egret on the side of Drakes Estero. As I round the next corner I see the tailgater in the distance, continuing their race to the finish line. Then 100 yards in front of me, I see a dead animal in the road. It is a sight I see too often, but I understand that this is part of the world we live in. Typically when I encounter a scene like this, I pull over and remove the carcass from the road to prevent any other animals that would feed on it from becoming victims themselves. I do so here.
As I get out of my car, I see it is a coyote pup. This isn't an animal victim I see often and my heart sinks. As I get closer to the carcass, I see the fresh wound in its head pumping blood onto the road. I watch the blood puddle grow and then begin its river toward the shoulder. My eyes well up with tears.
I pulled the coyote pup from the road and laid her well off the shoulder. I couldn't help but look back up the road wondering if my tailgater friend, now well out of sight, has made it to their destination on time.
This is the third coyote pup that has been killed by drivers in the last 2 weeks alone. Last month there was a badger killed by a car. Last year I watched an elk with a broken back trying to drag itself from passing cars. All of these deaths are preventable. Please. Slow down.