BAR HARBOR — The town’s animal control officer posted a photo of a dead female mallard duck and blood-spattered pavement on Facebook last Wednesday, with a plea to drivers on rural town roads to slow down.
A one-way detour loop for the Route 3 reconstruction project went into effect May 1, increasing traffic on the Crooked Road, Norway Drive, Gilbert Farm Road and Knox Road. The traffic is a major challenge for the wildlife in those neighborhoods, said Diana de los Santos, who serves as the director of the Hancock County SPCA and the animal control officer for Bar Harbor.
Police have increased speed patrols in the detour area this week. Police Chief Jim Willis offered to alert the road contractors to the presence of nesting animals. Unsafe speed also is dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists on the road.
“Living on this island, we have to deal with wildlife, and I think for the most part, we do a pretty good job of it,” de los Santos said. “And accidents happen. But with the detour, there is triple the traffic or more on these roads, which has made it pretty scary for animals who are creatures of habit. They’re not used to this much human interaction.”
Ducks and turtles both make their nests in marshes and sandy areas by the side of the road, especially around Hamilton Pond. This year, following heavy spring rain, there is more water in roadside ditches, and more mallard pairs are nesting there.
The female mallard apparently was hit the morning of May 3, de los Santos said. She and Ann Rivers of the Acadia Wildlife Foundation returned at the end of the day to search for any eggs the duck may have been guarding, but did not find any. Another passerby told de los Santos that they had seen a drake (male duck) in the area that day that they though might be the dead bird’s mate. They tried to shoo it away from the road, she said.
De los Santos said turtles will appear in the next month, as they come out of the ponds and begin digging nests in sandy areas. She advises motorists who stop to help a turtle across the road to grasp the shell back near the tail, away from the head. Notice which way it’s headed and don’t send it back where it came from, she said, or it likely will try to cross again.
Another effect of the detour has been a hitch in mail delivery for residents on the north side of the road.
“Mail trucks can only deliver on the one side of the road,” Department of Transportation spokesperson Carmen Forzetting said. “They can’t go back around and get the other side.
Postal service spokesperson Stephen Dougherty said about two dozen households could be affected. “Many of those customers have temporarily relocated their mailbox to the opposite side of the street while a few others have opted to pick up their mail at the post office,” he said.
Forzetting said DOT’s contractor has helped some of those residents move their mailboxes this week.