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Why the peacock crossed the road

Posted: June 20, 2012 1:30 a.m.
Updated: June 20, 2012 1:30 a.m.

One of two rescued young male peacocks waits for transportation from the Castaic Animal Shelter to Wildlife Care in Ventura County on Tuesday.

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Surprised motorists heading south on Interstate 5 Tuesday dodged a pair of peacocks in the slow lane near Templin Highway, the latest in a series of animals-on-the-highway encounters in the Santa Clarita Valley.

One of the birds was hit and suffered a broken leg, said Evelina Villa, spokeswoman for the Department of Animal Care and Control.

Although the wayward birds were later identified as belonging to a Templin-area resident, other animals, such as bears, coyotes and deer, continue to cause havoc for motorists in recent days as they make their way onto area highways, a California Highway Patrol officer said.

“Motorists should always be aware that they are not the only ones in the area,” said CHP Officer Juan Figueroa, who responded to the peacock incident Tuesday.

“You get big animals such as bears on the road,” he said. “You should always have time to slow down if you do see something on the road.”

Shortly after 9:30 a.m., when Figueroa responded to “peacocks in the No. 4 lane,” a motorist had already pulled over to the side of the interstate and was trying to coax the birds out of traffic, he said.

Other motorists were taking evasive action to avoid hitting the birds.

When motorists brake suddenly for animals, it often ends well for the animals but can end very badly for the motorist.
On Monday about 3 a.m., a woman’s car went off Placerita Canyon Road near Golden Oak Ranch when she stopped suddenly to avoid hitting a deer. She was taken to a hospital.

Wildfires can often drive animals from their native areas in search of new habitat, Figueroa said.

In all, the CHP has responded to at least four “traffic hazard” reports of animals on highways since the brush fire on the weekend of June 9 in the hills west of Castaic.

And while the Castaic brush fire and one in Acton last month remain extinguished, their destructive impact on animal habitat has put wildlife on the move, Figueroa said.

“Whenever there’s a brush fire you get animals on the move,” he said. “We’ve seen it with the recent fires. You get animals coming down looking for food and water.”

On June 10, when Los Angeles County Fire Department crews were still mopping up after a two-day battle with the fire near Lake Hughes Road, they received a report of a bear on the interstate.

That same weekend, CHP officers also responded to reports of four deer spotted in the westbound lanes of the 210 Highway, on the shoulder, just east of Interstate 5.

None of the deer was hit.

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