Celebrate World Lion Day (but don’t try this at home)


world-lion-day

Sunday is World Lion Day, a global campaign to celebrate the importance of the lion and to help prevent these majestic creatures from going extinct. If you’d like to learn more about how to support lions, click for a list of organizations active in lion conservation and research.

And we have a few amazing videos to get you in the spirit.

This clip is a fun & fascinating clip of lions interacting with a robotic camera buggy -like any cat, they were most curious and photographer Chris McLennon got some truly remarkable shots – up close and personal. If you can’t access the video, see some photos and animated gifs here.

The next is an 11 minute clip on Kevin Richardson, called the Lion Whisperer due to his unique bond with these terrifying but majestic predators. Incredible!

If these videos remind you of their domestic counterpart, the housecat, you may be inspired to adopt a slightly tamer cat from your nearby shelter!

Curious Klepto Critters Steal Cameras: Will insurance cover this?


Cameras are a prime target for theft — and not all thieves are of the human variety. Apparently, animals are almost as intrigued by cameras and selfies as we are. See the cute video clips below.

If a monkey or an eagle steals your camera while you’re on vacation, will your insurance cover that? If you have homeowners, renters or condo insurance, it should – most policies would cover your possessions at home and away, up to a specified dollar limit. Of course, it depends on your particular policy, so check with your agent about your coverage and limits — and to discuss any particularly expensive equipment, collections or items. If these exceed your limits, you may need a valuable property rider. And remember – keep a home inventory, if you don’t already have one.

When you buy expensive technology, it’s a good idea to register it with the manufacturer – not just for the warranty but also for the serial numbers, which can help with tracking in the event of a theft. There’s an online database that might help with recovery — at least if your thief is human. If your thief is of the animal variety, you’re on your own!

Just remember –  don’t put yourself in any danger if you are being robbed, whether animal or human. Property is replaceable – you aren’t.

November is peak deer-auto collision month


November is the month when auto-deer collisions are most likely to occur in New England. The average claim for deer-vehicle collisions is about $3,000 — much more if you factor in the cost of human injuries. Here’s a pop quiz: which New England state has the highest odds for hitting a moose and which has the lowest? The answers might be a little different than think: See this chart for likelihood of collision with a deer by state (PDF) or see the end of this article for just New England states..

Deer-car collisions can also be fatal for more than the deer. According to Massachusetts authorities, about 1 in 2,500 deer collisions results in human fatality

Moose are a whole different ballgame: 1 in 75 moose/vehicle collisions result in a fatality. And no wonder – A full grown moose can stand 6 feet tall at should height, considerably taller when you factor in the head and antlers. Antlers can be massive, with a span of 4 to 6 feet. At up to 1400 pounds in weight, you simply don’t want to hit one.

Check out this 12-step illustrated guide from wikiHow on how to avoid a moose deer collision. The New Hampshire Fish & Game folks also offer some good advice: Avoid Deer/Vehicle Collisions and Brake for moose, it could save your life.

Dangerous moose myth

There’s a persistent dangerous myth that often surfaces about moose-car collisions: some think that if a collision looks inevitable, you should accelerate so the impact will potentially hurtle the animal over the vehicle. Bad idea – MythBusters put this to the test on am Alaska episode using a moose dummy.

“The MythBusters steered a car motoring at 45 miles per hour into Lucy three times: once slowing down, once speeding up and once while maintaining the same speed. The wreckage revealed that slowing down is by far the safest option when running into a moose. Faster speeds deliver a greater force of impact, which the moose absorbs and delivers with a more powerful, damaging smackdown on top of the auto.”

The biggest thing about deer, moose and other wildlife is the surprising speed at which they can appear so moderating your speed is essential, particularly in animal zones during daylight and dusk. And even when they appear stationary, moose have been known to charge cars – especially if they have babies to protect, as in this clip of a protective Mama moose.

New England States – deer collision odds

  • Vermont 1 in 180
  • Maine 1 in 207
  • New Hampshire 1 in 279
  • Connecticut 1 in 299
  • Rhode Island 1 in 373
  • Massachusetts 1 in 524

Bats in the Belfry: Home maintenance nightmare


During a new roof installation, some Florida roofers ran into a surprise when they were tearing up the old one. Make sure that checking your roof is a routine part of maintenance.

Bats have an undeservedly bad reputation in public lore (well, except for Batman) but they are important little critters that keep the insect population down, have a role in pollination and seed distribution, and play other important ecological functions. Because of this, they are a protected species under Massachusetts law, and most other state laws too.
The Massachusetts Wildlife Department offers a useful Homeowner’s Guide to Bats that offers information on what to do if a bat gets in your house, signs that a bat colony might be inhabiting your attic, advice for how to get rid of a bat colony that has adopted your home as their own, and other bat-related tips and pointers.
One other note about the video on a different topic from the bats: If you have roofers working on your house, make sure that they use safety harnesses or some type of fall protection! While a work injury would typically fall under workers’ comp, as a homeowner, you don’t want to take any chances.

Seasonal road hazards: deer, moose and other ruminants


It’s that time of year again: peak deer-car collision season. More than half of all vehicle-deer crashes annually occur in October through December, with November being the peak month. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), more than 150 fatalities each year are caused by vehicle-deer collisions. Deer are fast, unpredictable and can appear out of the blue.

But deer aren’t the only four-legged danger – moose and elk are serious road hazards, too. Larger, taller and with more body mass than deer, a bull moose can reach up to 1500 pounds. And because they are tall with long legs, they often come right in through the windshield when hit, a serious danger to car occupants. See this mammmal size comparison illustration to get an idea of how big moose, elk, deer, and other wildlife can be.

IIHS has issued a chart of fatalities from crashes with animals, tracking from 1975. They note that many of these deaths were preventable:

“Most of the crash deaths occurred after a motor vehicle had struck an animal and then run off the road or a motorcyclist had fallen off a bike. Many of these deaths wouldn’t have occurred with appropriate protection. The study found that 60 percent of the people killed riding in vehicles weren’t using safety belts, and 65 percent of those killed riding on motorcycles weren’t wearing helmets.”

Here are some resources to help you assess your state’s relative risk when it comes to large animals in the deer family:
Moose populations in selected states
Elk population by state
Driving tips to avoid colliding with deer and moose

  • Wear your seat belt
  • Be particularly cautions at dawn, dusk. Most collisions occur between 5 and 10 pm.
  • If you see one deer, there may be others – deer travel in herds
  • Heed posted signs warning about wildlife – they are there for a reason
  • Avoid speeding. Slow down around curves
  • Scan the sides of the road – watch for movement.
  • Be particularly alert on roads with woods, farmland, and water
  • Be cautious and slow down at night. You may see deer eyes reflected in your lights, but moose eyes don’t reflect light.
  • Watch other traffic – if you see cars stopped or slowing, it may indicate an animal
  • Flash headlights to warn other drivers
  • Don’t try to outrace or beat a crossing animal
  • Use high beams when you can
  • If you see an animal, honk your horn. Your lights may freeze or confuse an animal.
  • Motorcycles are particularly vulnerable – a cyclist may even be charged by a large animal

What to do if you hit a deer or a moose
Stop your car, put on hazard lights. You want to be visible so that no other car will hit you, your car, or the animal. Avoid approaching an injured animal, which can be very dangerous. In some states, if there are no injuries and your car is drivable, you would not be required to report the collision to the police. If you are unsure of the state law, call police. They will alert game wardens or the appropriate authorities to handle the animal. Some states will let you keep an animal for the meat, but you may need a permit. Report the accident to your insurance agent as soon as possible.
Drivers should be aware that not all auto insurance will cover deer or moose collisions. Comprehensive insurance is required to pay for damage incurred from an animal collision. Some people only have collision coverage and don’t carry comprehensive.