Drivers who see an injured or scared animal on the side of the road may feel sorry for it and be inclined to stop and render aid.
But that’s a bad idea, the Minnesota State Patrol said. On Thursday, the patrol released a video on social media showing just how hazardous that can be.
On top of that, it’s against the law.
“You can be cited for that,” said Scott Wasserman, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.
Motorists can also be ticketed for stopping or parking on a freeway shoulder or exit ramp when it’s not an emergency, said Lt. Gordon Shank.
So the driver who decided to cross to rescue an injured or frightened goose near the center concrete median on Interstate 394 broke the law twice. In this case, he was not cited for either offense, but endangered several passersby in the process.
“This was hard to watch,” Shank said in an interview. “We don’t know what his action plan was. It caused a lot of chaos for nothing.”
The Minnesota Department of Transportation video from Aug. 2 shows the man attempting to stop traffic on eastbound I-394 at Carlson Parkway in Minnetonka. As he makes his way across, drivers slam on their brakes and nearly hit the man and each other.
“Animals are cute and we understand the desire to want to help them off the highway or interstate,” the patrol said in its Facebook post. “But this video is a perfect example of why doing that is a bad idea.”
Harland Hiemstra, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, agreed and urged motorists to use common sense and not put themselves or others in danger.
“Wow, that was definitely not a smart move on that person’s part,” Hiemstra wrote in an e-mail after watching the video. “While his intentions may have been noble, his actions put many people (and the goose!) at risk.”
Diana Regenscheid, a DNR wildlife manager in Shakopee, said motorists should not approach animals on the side of the road. Animals are wild will try to get away if you approach, she said.
“There is a real possibility you could chase the animal into traffic.” she said. If that happens, “motorists may try to stop or swerve,” causing even more havoc.
Injured wildlife have a fight or flight instinct and pose a threat to an untrained rescuer. The animal may lash out and bite, peck or scratch, and that can also lead to injuries.
“It’s nice to be empathic to wildlife, but the best thing to do is call law enforcement,” Regenscheid said.
In this case, all ended well with no reports of any injuries to the man or the goose, Wasserman said.