2016-08-18 / Front Page

Making way for ducks

Drivers need to be reminded to to stop for waterfowl
By Ben Meiklejohn
Staff Writer

Old Orchard Beach resident Brad Laverriere near a spot on West Grand Avenue in Ocean Park by a marsh, where two ducks were hit by a car earlier this summer. (Ben Meiklejohn photo) Old Orchard Beach resident Brad Laverriere near a spot on West Grand Avenue in Ocean Park by a marsh, where two ducks were hit by a car earlier this summer. (Ben Meiklejohn photo) OLD ORCHARD BEACH/ BIDDEFORD – The town of Old Orchard Beach will soon post a “duck crossing sign” on West Grand Avenue, similar to a sign placed on Alfred Street in Biddeford last year. Old Orchard Beach Public Works Administrative Operations Manager Melissa Hutchins said the sign is being put up in response to a complaint of drivers not being attentive to ducks crossing West Grand Avenue from an abutting marsh.

Hutchins said the sign is in production and will be installed within several weeks.

Old Orchard Beach resident Brad Laverriere said he was the one who made the call to police in the middle of July to report that a couple ducks had been hit in Ocean Park.

“I heard a lot of commotion and people were standing around the road. There were a couple of ducks that got ran over,” Laverriere said. “One was dead at the scene and one had a broken leg.”

Laverriere said bystanders who saw the ducks get hit said the car never slowed down, paid attention or even stopped after hitting the ducks.

Laverrriere said after that, he called public works to request that signs be put up.

“They were really nice about it,” he said. “I told them what happened and they’re going to put signs up, one for each direction.”

Hutchins said she did not know of any reported incidents of ducks being hit, and the signs were being put up as a precaution, “not because something happened.” The Old Orchard Beach police department could not confirm any reports of duck impacts, but Laverriere said he called the police after the incident and the injured duck was taken to an animal rehabilitation center.

In Biddeford, even though there has been a sign on Alfred Street near Southern Maine Health Care for more than a year, some are concerned that people may be becoming desensitized to the sign. Tatyana LeSiege, a hygienist at All Smiles Dental at 2 Wellspring Road, said she saw some ducks almost get hit last month while gong to work.

“I was coming back from the bank. I was in the far right lane to pull back in and there was a duck crossing,” LeSiege said. “The car behind me thankfully stopped but the car on the left didn’t stop and slammed on its brakes.”

LeSiege said not all ducks have been so lucky and Biddeford Public Works had to be called to pick up dead waterfowl earlier this summer.

“The sign is relatively effective, it was doing a good job. Most people do slow down when they see ducks crossing,” LeSiege said, “but there’s something blocking the gully. I’m trying to get somebody to clear it. Something’s blocking the gully, so they’re starting to go over the street.”

LeSiege said when the ducks start using the road to get between two areas of marsh that they like, it becomes not only an animal safety issue, but one of human safety as well. LeSiege said workmates at her office had pushed to have the sign put up last year, but drivers might be used to the sign and not heeding it as much anymore.

“It was big for us to push for it, but a lot of people are still doing 40 miles per hour with no care in the world as to what they could hit,” she said. “Just be aware of the signs. There are a lot of people who are very animal friendly.”

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