Learn How These Concerned Citizens are Honoring Roadkill

Do you ever think about the impact each one of us has on our wildlife every time we sit in our cars? We’ve all seen it, and, for the most part, we’ve ignored it: roadkill. If we happen to catch a glimpse of the dead animal, then we’ll probably feel a mix of sadness, helplessness and disgust…and speed off as quickly as possible. But concerned citizens from California prove that there’s still a way to honor the life of roadkill.

Plotting Roadkill Hotspots

As reported in Santa Cruz Sentinel, concerned citizens from California see roadkill as an opportunity to learn and to help wildlife. For years, part of Kathryn Harrold’s routine has been to capture images of roadkill with her cell. Diligently working on a volunteer basis, Harrold will add her images to California Roadkill Observation System (CROS) 30,000 strong database.

The CROS database isn’t run by the government or scientists. It’s run by concerned citizens who volunteer their time to the cause of documenting roadkill sightings. According to the plots, highways are natural roadkill hotspots. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Our leaders can take the data from the world’s largest roadkill database to create infrastructure that will benefit our wildlife. For instance, information from the database could dictate where animal crossings, barriers, under- and overpasses, and fences need to go. It’s also taught us where “70 of the state’s most dangerous roads for animals” are located. Unfortunately, this data is a tough sell. Because of its novelty, state leaders have a tough job deciding how many fatalities are too many and how many accidents are too many.

Believe it or not, humans can also benefit from better infrastructure that keeps wildlife off of our roads. Every year in The Golden State, drivers report approximately 1,000 accidents related to wildlife. Deer collisions alone can cause $6,700 worth of vehicle damage. Obviously, there’s no price to human injuries and lives; one adult, male White-tailed deer could reach 150-pounds in the summer — do you want to risk hitting 150-pounds of deer? I don’t.

The CROS database isn’t the perfect database. It’s maintained by volunteers, not professionals. It relies on an honor system that isn’t always honored. The database is limited to where the volunteers drive. And the project can’t really map where animals are crossing successfully. But it’s a good start, and a good initiative started by people like you and me who care about our wildlife.

The Rules of Roadkill

I think the CROS database is something we should see in every state. But until that happens, here are a few ideas about what you can do if you see roadkill:

1. Determine your location: What’s your closest exit number or mile marker? This information will help local authorities find you.

2. Pull over… when it’s safe: You have to assess the situation on a case-by-case basis. Is it safe for you to pull over? Is it safe for other drivers, or traffic, if you pull over?

3. Call for help and stay with the animal: There’s no convenient addresses in our wilderness. It’s easier for local wildlife authorities to find and help the animal if you stay.

4. Move the animal…when it makes sense: Injured wild animals could easily see you as a threat and try to bite or harm you. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries recommends not trying to rescue skunks or bats because they’re high-risk. Do not try to move wild animals on your own. But if the deceased animal is still intact and easy to move, then moving it off the road may be appropriate.

5. Call a wildlife vet: In extreme cases (e.g. bleeding), you can call your nearest local wildlife veterinarian, says Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

6. Look for babies: Orphaned animals that stay behind are always a concern. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries says that the kindest thing to do for orphans is to protect them from predators by “placing them in a box or elevated place.” Call a rehabilitation center and follow their advice.

Every situation is unique. And everyone handles them differently. Vegan advocate and YouTuber, Emily Moran Barwick from Bite Size Vegan shares her roadkill ritual in the video below:

Do you have your own roadkill ritual? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Don DeBold

68 comments

Colleen Olson
Colleen Olson2 years ago

If it's safe I move my kin off the road, and find a nearby bush, tree, or wooded area and try bury. It's amazing the reactions I get, most people are touched that I take time to do this, instead of just driving by and ignoring the suffering and loss of life - like it was just a piece trash by the side of the road.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Julia Cabrera-Woscek

I felt terrible killing a spider yesterday but I can't imagine killing a big creature on the road.

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Valentina R.
Valentina R3 years ago

Drive reasonably slowly and carefully when approaching wood/rural areas. Too many animals, both wild and domestic, get hit by cars. Pay attention.

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Sherry Bailey
Sherry Bailey3 years ago

Roadkill is sad for anyone who has compassion to see, especially children. In all counties Nationwide they have someone who pick up the deceased animal and properly dispose of its remains. The first place to contact would be the local animal shelter in your area, often they are the ones who take care of this issue. Sometimes it will have to be called into the Police Department and they interact for pick-up, depending on the funding allotted to the animal shelter.

Also, when it comes to highways there sometimes is a different agency that deals with freeway issues. Again, start with animal shelter services first and if they don't they can best direct you as to who to call, This is the kindest thing one can do, to keep the animal from rotting and tearing the eyes of innocent children passing by, too! There has been many times I have assisted a dying animal, then used a so called 'body bag' I keep available in my car, then take the animal over to the animal shelter drop-off area.

That would depend on how animal shelters in your are face these issues.

Bless Each of You Tenfold For All You Do To Help Another, Not Just People!

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Rob B.
Rob B3 years ago

I go slowly through the wooded areas near me since we constantly have squirrels running across roads. I've avoided hitting at least a couple of them a month that way. We do have predators available to "pick up" the roadkill...hawks and vultures make pretty quick work of whatever happens to be left near or on the roads.

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Cathy P.
Cathy P3 years ago

We could all do more to help wildlife cross the street. I see squirrels hit on streets with 20 MPH or less speed limits and think what kind of idiot couldn't have avoided that animal.

Thanks for sharing Emily's video, she is brilliant! This is definitely not her best video though. A little time checking out her channel is well worth your time. Peace.

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mari s.
Mari S3 years ago

Always have your local, nearest Wildlife Rescue Emergency tel # on hand -- in New York --

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Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell3 years ago

Thanks

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Carole R.
Carole R3 years ago

Very sad.

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