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California Tracks Roadkill Stats

California Tracks Roadkill Stats

Have you seen any dead animals by the roadside lately? Chances are you just answered “yes.” 

In the United States, there is no federally-organized system of reporting animals killed by traffic. The HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) estimates one million animals are killed by traffic daily in this country. 

The New York Times reports the University of California-Davis has started keeping records of animals found dead on roadways. The big difference: the use of community citizens for reporting.

Staffed by over 360 volunteers who drive around, take photographs of dead animals hit by traffic, and mark GPS coordinates, they identify the species and then upload the information to UCD. The purpose: “…to measure and reduce the impacts to wildlife from human activity.”  Road ecology seeks to understand the evolutionary consequences of plant and animal ecosystems fragmented by roadways.

By discovering where and why animals attempt to cross a road, statistical systems for prediction of roadkill hotspots can be centralized and available. It will help form managerial and financial policy about wildlife habitat and interaction with humans. This will assist in implementing more appropriate warning signage on current and future roadways.  More importantly, it should help reduce the amount of animal-vehicle collisions.

The California Roadkill Observation System website is trying to have a Smartphone app designed to enlist the younger demographic with the project.  With a built-in GPS function, the Smartphone would provide more accurate location detail to the database.

Raccoons, skunks, squirrels and opossum are among the most commonly discovered animal-automobile fatalities in California, followed by deer.  This may be a gruesome subject — who doesn’t cringe when avoiding roadkill? But, as with any other unpleasant subject matter, it is important to face the cold, hard truth.  Without recognition and dialogue, change will never occur.

UCD has started a sister website for the state of Maine — Maine Audubon Wildlife Road Watch. The difference being, Maine volunteers are also recording live, injured animals in their reports.

There is no doubt as the human population continues to grow, wildlife is further impinged upon for open areas.  If you are disturbed by the visions of so many wild animal carcasses on the roadways in your community, why not consider forming a site in your state?

UCD can assist you in that endeavor.  Contact co-directors Alison M. Berry at (530) 752-7683 or and Fraser Shilling at (530) 752-7859 or 

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Flickr: Kevin Saff

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7:31AM PDT on Jul 13, 2012

Wildlife-vehicle collisions can be reduced by as much as 99 percent when overpasses, underpasses and fencing are used.

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9:25AM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

E' una cosa veramente triste vedere un'animale morto sul ciglio della strada.

3:47PM PDT on May 17, 2011


8:37AM PDT on May 7, 2011

Thanks, makes me think about when I was in Africa and elephants crossed the road.

5:56PM PDT on May 6, 2011

I just hate to see any dead animals on the side of the road. Living in Colorado we have tons of dead prairie dogs on the highways and city streets. You may think I'm crazy but everytime I see one I say "God Bless You and Keep You". When we all (who deserve it) get to Heaven, there will not be any more animal cruelty.

1:56PM PDT on Oct 31, 2010

I know some of the areas where I live,where wildlife crosses a lot,especially deer and make sure I am scanning from side to side,looking for animals on the side that may dart out,and also lower my speed considerably. If a deer crosses the road near you,please be careful,as quite often another one is followinf,especially fawns following their mother!

6:33PM PDT on Oct 7, 2010

Poor animals. So sad that they have no place they can be safe from humans.

9:30AM PDT on Sep 25, 2010


7:49PM PDT on Sep 22, 2010

Very sad to see so many dead animals on the roads

5:41PM PDT on Sep 22, 2010

It's the saddest, loneliest thing in the world to see a dead animal on the side of the road. They had no chance.

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