Last weekend, clocks around the country were wound back an hour while most grappled with the changing time and having less daylight.
We weren’t the only ones aware of the time change, though, as wildlife are also impacted by the annual change.
A study with the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health noted that daylight saving time (DST) is a “contentious policy” that’s often not well received by the public. It went on to list why many react to it poorly — factors including interrupted sleep patterns and disrupted biological clocks, and increased modern energy usage.
It also pointed out that collisions with wildlife — whether deer, bear or smaller critters — is most likely to occur during twilight or darkness.
“More than 350 million vertebrates are killed on U.S. roads every year, causing around $1 billion in damage,” the study indicated.
And during the next month or so, while the rut occurs for Pennsylvania whitetail deer, those collisions will be an ever greater cause for concern.
“Deer become more active in autumn with the lead-up to their fall breeding season,” according to a report from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. “Around this time, many yearling bucks disperse from the areas in which they were born and travel, sometimes several dozen miles, to find new ranges. Meanwhile, adult bucks more often are cruising their home ranges in search of does, and they sometimes chase the does they encounter.”
Because of that, it won’t be an uncommon sight for does and bucks to run across the road in those dark morning and evening hours. The PGC executive director advised in the report that motorists should “stay alert and be on the lookout for whitetails while driving.”
It’s clear that the decreased daylight hours has an impact on wildlife movement and the likelihood of wildlife-car encounters, but what about other wildlife and animals?
A report from the Animal Rescue Site indicates that similar to humans, many animals set their routine to the sunlight.
“They rise with the sun, and they prepare to sleep when the sun sets. These animals will simply adjust their behavior to mimic the sun,” the report stated. That being said, many indoor animals and pets also tend to mimic the schedule set by their owners — rising at a certain time, being fed or let out to go to the bathroom at certain times.
“They may be confused as to why everything is an hour earlier,” the report said, though it added that, like people, some animals and pets will adjust immediately, while others need a few days to adjust to the ‘fall behind’ schedule.
For those in the woods, though, there isn’t necessarily a time schedule to be beholden to. Instead, they’re much more aligned with the seasonal changes.
The end of daylight saving time falls in line with the drop in temperature and loss of leaves, and the harkening of winter, so for many, it’s time to hunker down for the coming cold months.
For others, say those with wings, it’s largely time to head south and get a bit closer to the equator to warm up.
This will be the new norm for the next several months, but come springtime, the inevitable changing hours will once again change driving habits, animal patterns and overall perception of the coveted longer daylight hours.