Roadkill
Overview
Roadkill is an animal or animals that have been struck and killed by motor vehicle
Motor vehicle
A motor vehicle or road vehicle is a self-propelled wheeled vehicle that does not operate on rails, such as trains or trolleys. The vehicle propulsion is provided by an engine or motor, usually by an internal combustion engine, or an electric motor, or some combination of the two, such as hybrid...

s. In the United States of America, removal and disposal of animals struck by motor vehicles is usually the responsibility of the state's state trooper association or department of transportation.
During the early 20th century, roadkill or "flat meats" became a common sight in all industrialized First World
First World
The concept of the First World first originated during the Cold War, where it was used to describe countries that were aligned with the United States. These countries were democratic and capitalistic. After the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the term "First World" took on a...

 nations, as they adopted the internal combustion engine
Internal combustion engine
The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high -pressure gases produced by combustion apply direct force to some component of the engine...

 and the automobile
Automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Roadkill is an animal or animals that have been struck and killed by motor vehicle
Motor vehicle
A motor vehicle or road vehicle is a self-propelled wheeled vehicle that does not operate on rails, such as trains or trolleys. The vehicle propulsion is provided by an engine or motor, usually by an internal combustion engine, or an electric motor, or some combination of the two, such as hybrid...

s. In the United States of America, removal and disposal of animals struck by motor vehicles is usually the responsibility of the state's state trooper association or department of transportation.

History

During the early 20th century, roadkill or "flat meats" became a common sight in all industrialized First World
First World
The concept of the First World first originated during the Cold War, where it was used to describe countries that were aligned with the United States. These countries were democratic and capitalistic. After the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the term "First World" took on a...

 nations, as they adopted the internal combustion engine
Internal combustion engine
The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high -pressure gases produced by combustion apply direct force to some component of the engine...

 and the automobile
Automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

. Roadkill can be eaten, and there are several recipe books dedicated to roadkill. (See Roadkill cuisine
Roadkill cuisine
Roadkill cuisine is preparing and eating roadkill, animals hit by vehicles and found along roads.It is a practice engaged in by a small subculture in the United States, Southern Canada, the United Kingdom and other Western countries as well as in other parts of the world...

) One of the earliest observers of roadkill was the naturalist Joseph Grinnell, who noted in 1920: "This [roadkill] is a relatively new source of fatality; and if one were to estimate the entire mileage of such roads in the state [California], the mortality must mount into the hundreds and perhaps thousands every 24 hours."

In Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, specific actions taken to protect against the variety of animals that can damage vehicles – such as bullbars (usually known in Australia as 'roo bars', in reference to kangaroo
Kangaroo
A kangaroo is a marsupial from the family Macropodidae . In common use the term is used to describe the largest species from this family, especially those of the genus Macropus, Red Kangaroo, Antilopine Kangaroo, Eastern Grey Kangaroo and Western Grey Kangaroo. Kangaroos are endemic to the country...

s) – indicate the Australian experience has some unique features with road kill. In North America, deer
Deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

 are the animal most likely to cause vehicle damage.

Research

The Simmons Society was founded by Professor Roger M. Knutson of Luther College
Luther College (Iowa)
Luther College is a four-year, residential liberal arts institution of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, located in Decorah, Iowa, USA...

 in Decorah
Decorah, Iowa
Decorah is a city in and the county seat of Winneshiek County, Iowa, United States. The population was 8,172 at the 2000 census. Decorah is located at the intersection of State Highway 9 and U.S...

, Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

, US
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 to further studies of road fauna. Professor Knutson also published a book called "Common Animals of Roads, Street, and Highway: A Field Guide To Flattened Fauna".

A recent study showed that insects, too, are prone to a very high risk of roadkill incidence. Research showed interesting patterns in insect/butterfly road kills in relation to the vehicle density. Although the insect community is equally at risk, much of the attention goes to bigger, more charismatic animals.

About 350,000 to 27 million birds are estimated to be killed on European roads each year.

Breakdown by species

In 1993, 25 schools throughout New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 participated in a roadkill study involving 1,923 animal deaths. By category, the fatalities were:
  • 81% mammal
    Mammal
    Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

    s
  • 15% bird
    Bird
    Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

    s
  • 3% reptile
    Reptile
    Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

    s and amphibian
    Amphibian
    Amphibians , are a class of vertebrate animals including animals such as toads, frogs, caecilians, and salamanders. They are characterized as non-amniote ectothermic tetrapods...

    s
  • 1% indiscernible


Extrapolating
Extrapolation
In mathematics, extrapolation is the process of constructing new data points. It is similar to the process of interpolation, which constructs new points between known points, but the results of extrapolations are often less meaningful, and are subject to greater uncertainty. It may also mean...

 these data nationwide, Merritt Clifton, editor of Animal People Newspaper estimated that the following animals are being killed by motor vehicles in the United States annually:
  • 41 million squirrel
    Squirrel
    Squirrels belong to a large family of small or medium-sized rodents called the Sciuridae. The family includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots , flying squirrels, and prairie dogs. Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa and have been introduced to Australia...

    s
  • 26 million cat
    Cat
    The cat , also known as the domestic cat or housecat to distinguish it from other felids and felines, is a small, usually furry, domesticated, carnivorous mammal that is valued by humans for its companionship and for its ability to hunt vermin and household pests...

    s
  • 22 million rat
    Rat
    Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents of the superfamily Muroidea. "True rats" are members of the genus Rattus, the most important of which to humans are the black rat, Rattus rattus, and the brown rat, Rattus norvegicus...

    s
  • 19 million opossum
    Didelphimorphia
    Opossums make up the largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere, including 103 or more species in 19 genera. They are also commonly called possums, though that term technically refers to Australian fauna of the suborder Phalangeriformes. The Virginia opossum was the first animal to be...

    s
  • 15 million raccoon
    Raccoon
    Procyon is a genus of nocturnal mammals, comprising three species commonly known as raccoons, in the family Procyonidae. The most familiar species, the common raccoon , is often known simply as "the" raccoon, as the two other raccoon species in the genus are native only to the tropics and are...

    s
  • 6 million dog
    Dog
    The domestic dog is a domesticated form of the gray wolf, a member of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. The term is used for both feral and pet varieties. The dog may have been the first animal to be domesticated, and has been the most widely kept working, hunting, and companion animal in...

    s
  • 350,000 deer
    Deer
    Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...



This study may not have considered differences in observability among taxa (i.e. dead raccoons are easier to see than dead frogs), and has not been published in peer-reviewed scientific literature.

State Wildlife Roadkill Observation Systems

Recently (since 2009), statewide roadkill observation systems have sprung up, enrolling hundreds of observers in reporting roadkill on a website. The observers, who are usually naturalists or professional scientists, provide identification, location, and other information about the observations. The data are then displayed on a website for easy visualization and made available for studies of proximate causes of roadkill, actual wildlife distributions, wildlife movement, and other studies. Roadkill observation system websites are available for the US states of California and Maine. In both cases, index roads are used to help quantify total impact of vehicle collisions on specific vertebrate taxa.

State Wildlife Roadkill Identification Guide

The first wildlife roadkill identification guide produced by a state agency in North America was published by the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation (BCMoT) in Canada in 2008. BCMoT’s “Wildlife Roadkill Identification Guide” focused on the most common large carnivores and ungulates found in British Columbia. The guide was developed to assist BCMoT's maintenance contractors in identifying wildlife carcasses found on provincial highways as part of their responsibilities for BCMoT’s Wildlife Accident Reporting System (WARS).

Michigan roadkill analysis

In 1994, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

 reported 56,666 deer collisions, of which five resulted in human fatalities, according to Mark Matthew Braunstein of the Santa Cruz Hub. The problem is so pervasive that, according to an article by Hank Pellissier of the San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
thumb|right|upright|The Chronicle Building following the [[1906 San Francisco earthquake|1906 earthquake]] and fireThe San Francisco Chronicle is a newspaper serving primarily the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California, but distributed throughout Northern and Central California,...

, Michigan uses roadkill statistics to estimate its deer population.

Roadkill prevention

Collisions with animals can have many negative consequences:
  • Injury to, or death of, vehicle occupants
  • Injury to, or death of, pet
    Pet
    A pet is a household animal kept for companionship and a person's enjoyment, as opposed to wild animals or to livestock, laboratory animals, working animals or sport animals, which are kept for economic or productive reasons. The most popular pets are noted for their loyal or playful...

    s
  • Harm to endangered species
    Endangered species
    An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

  • Injury to, or death of animal
  • Vehicle damage
  • Economic losses (cleanup, repairs to vehicles, etc.)

Collisions with animals with antlers (e.g., deer) are particularly dangerous, as the head has a tendency to separate and come through the windshield
Windshield
The windshield or windscreen of an aircraft, car, bus, motorbike or tram is the front window. Modern windshields are generally made of laminated safety glass, a type of treated glass, which consists of two curved sheets of glass with a plastic layer laminated between them for safety, and are glued...

, but any large, long-legged animal (e.g. horses, larger cattle, camels) can pose a similar cabin incursion hazard. Injury to humans due to driver failure to maintain control of a vehicle either while avoiding, or during and immediately after an animal impact, is also not infrequent.

Deer horn
Deer horn
A deer horn, or deer whistle, is a sonic generator mounted on automobiles intended to help prevent collisions with deer. A Shu-Roo is a similar device used in Australia to scare off kangaroos. The device produces ultrasound, and relies on deers' allegedly acute sense of hearing...

s can be mounted on vehicles to warn deer of approaching automobiles, though their effectiveness is disputed.

The Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation is an example of an organization advocating roadkill prevention.

Night driving

Although strikes can happen at any time of day, deer tend to move at dawn and dusk, and are particularly active during the October–December mating season
Estrous cycle
The estrous cycle comprises the recurring physiologic changes that are induced by reproductive hormones in most mammalian placental females. Estrous cycles start after puberty in sexually mature females and are interrupted by anestrous phases or pregnancies...

. Driving at night presents its own challenges: nocturnal species are on the move, and visibility, particularly side visibility, is reduced. When headlights approach a nocturnal animal, this makes it hard for the creature to see the approaching car (nocturnal animals see better in low than in bright light). Furthermore, the glare of vehicle headlights can dazzle some species, such as rabbit
Rabbit
Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world...

s; they will freeze in the road rather than flee. The simple tactics of reducing speed and scanning both sides of the road for foraging
Foraging
- Definitions and significance of foraging behavior :Foraging is the act of searching for and exploiting food resources. It affects an animal's fitness because it plays an important role in an animal's ability to survive and reproduce...

 deer can improve driver safety at night. Drivers may see the glow of a deer's eyes before seeing the animal itself.

Wildlife crossings

Wildlife crossing
Wildlife crossing
Wildlife crossings are structures that allow animals to cross human-made barriers safely. Wildlife crossings may include: underpass tunnels, viaducts, and overpasses ; amphibian tunnels; fish ladders; tunnels and culverts ; green roofs .Wildlife crossings are a...

s allow animals to travel over or underneath roads. They are most widely used in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, but have also been installed in a few U.S. locations and in parts of Western Canada
Western Canada
Western Canada, also referred to as the Western provinces and commonly as the West, is a region of Canada that includes the four provinces west of the province of Ontario.- Provinces :...

. As new highway
Highway
A highway is any public road. In American English, the term is common and almost always designates major roads. In British English, the term designates any road open to the public. Any interconnected set of highways can be variously referred to as a "highway system", a "highway network", or a...

s cause habitat
Habitat
* Habitat , a place where a species lives and grows*Human habitat, a place where humans live, work or play** Space habitat, a space station intended as a permanent settlement...

s to become increasingly fragmented, these crossings could play a crucial role in protecting endangered species.

In the United States, sections of road known to have heavy deer cross-traffic will usually have a warning sign depicting a bounding deer. Similar signs exist for moose
Moose
The moose or Eurasian elk is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic configuration...

, elk
Elk
The Elk is the large deer, also called Cervus canadensis or wapiti, of North America and eastern Asia.Elk may also refer to:Other antlered mammals:...

 and other species.

In the American West
Western United States
.The Western United States, commonly referred to as the American West or simply "the West," traditionally refers to the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. Because the U.S. expanded westward after its founding, the meaning of the West has evolved over time...

, roads may pass through large areas designated as "open range", meaning no fences separate drivers from large animals such as cattle
Cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

 or bison
Bison
Members of the genus Bison are large, even-toed ungulates within the subfamily Bovinae. Two extant and four extinct species are recognized...

. A driver may round a bend to find a small herd standing in the road. Open range areas are generally marked with signage and protected by a cattle guard
Cattle grid
A cattle grid or cattle guard – also known as a vehicle pass, Texas gate, stock gap A cattle grid (or stock grid)(British English) or cattle guard (American English) – also known as a vehicle pass, Texas gate, stock gap A cattle grid (or stock grid)(British English) or cattle guard (American...

.

A few states now have sophisticated systems to protect motorists from large animals. One of these systems is called the roadway animal detection system. A solar powered sensor detects animals near the roadway and flashes a light to alert oncoming drivers.

Fencing

In the New Forest
New Forest
The New Forest is an area of southern England which includes the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest in the heavily-populated south east of England. It covers south-west Hampshire and extends into south-east Wiltshire....

, in southern England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, there is a proposal to fence roads to protect the New Forest pony
New Forest pony
The New Forest Pony or New Forester is one of the recognised Mountain and moorland or Native pony breeds of the British Isles. The breed is valued for its hardiness, strength and sureness of foot...

. However, this proposal is controversial.

Health aspects

  • People using highway bridges for shelter should be aware that a bridge constitutes a trap for any animal that wanders onto it, and runoff cascading from the bridge during a rainstorm has often come into intimate contact with long-dead roadkill.

Eating Roadkill

There has been at least one case in the United States where a jail inmate was allegedly forced to eat roadkill.
We reject Sheriff Clegg's contention that the relevant law governing his conduct was not clearly established at the time Appellee was allegedly served contaminated roadkill meat in prison., Goodrick v. Clegg, 129 F.3d 125, Unpublished Disposition, 9th Cir.(Idaho), Nov 13, 1997.

Plaintiff Goodrick was incarcerated at Kootenai County Jail in Idaho on two occasions. While there he was fed roadkill, which he claims made him very sick., Goodrick v. Clegg, 210 F.3d 382, Unpublished Disposition, 9th Cir.(Idaho), Jan 4, 2000.

Cultural aspects

  • The fact that most people's encounters with roadkill occur long enough after the time of death for the carcass to be further macerated by traffic, or begin to decompose, has contributed to strong negative or ironic cultural associations and taboos. For example, when the Tennessee legislature attempted to legalize the use of accidentally killed animals, they became the subject of stereotyping and derisive humor.
  • Roadkill is sometimes used as an art form. Several artists use traditional taxidermy
    Taxidermy
    Taxidermy is the act of mounting or reproducing dead animals for display or for other sources of study. Taxidermy can be done on all vertebrate species of animals, including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians...

     preparation in their works whilst others explore different artforms. International artist Claudia Terstappen photographs roadkill and produces enormous prints which see the animals floating eerily in a void. Roadkill as art is not new, American artist Stephen Paternite
    Stephen Paternite
    Stephen Paternite multi-media artist received his initial art training in the early 1970s at Cooper School of Art, Cleveland, Ohio- Career :...

     has been exhibiting roadkill pieces since the 1970s.

See also

  • Bushmeat
    Bushmeat
    Bushmeat initially referred to the hunting of wild animals in West and Central Africa and is a calque from the French viande de brousse. Today the term is commonly used for meat of terrestrial wild animals, killed for subsistence or commercial purposes throughout the humid tropics of the Americas,...

  • Deer-vehicle collisions
    Deer-vehicle collisions
    A deer-vehicle collision occurs when one or more deer and a human-operated vehicle collide on a roadway. It can result in deer fatality, property damage, and human injury and/or death....

  • Habitat conservation
    Habitat conservation
    Habitat conservation is a land management practice that seeks to conserve, protect and restore, habitat areas for wild plants and animals, especially conservation reliant species, and prevent their extinction, fragmentation or reduction in range...

  • Habitat corridor
    Habitat corridor
    A habitat corridor is a strip of land that aids in the movement of species between disconnected areas of their natural habitat. An animal’s natural habitat would typically include a number of areas necessary to thrive, such as wetlands, burrowing sites, food, and breeding grounds...

  • Habitat destruction
    Habitat destruction
    Habitat destruction is the process in which natural habitat is rendered functionally unable to support the species present. In this process, the organisms that previously used the site are displaced or destroyed, reducing biodiversity. Habitat destruction by human activity mainly for the purpose of...

  • Habitat fragmentation
    Habitat fragmentation
    Habitat fragmentation as the name implies, describes the emergence of discontinuities in an organism's preferred environment , causing population fragmentation...

  • Roadkill bingo
    Roadkill bingo
    Roadkill bingo is a game in which the pictures of 24 different animals are placed randomly in a grid, printed on paper or cardboard . The game is traditionally played in vehicles during long distance travel....

  • Roadkill cuisine
    Roadkill cuisine
    Roadkill cuisine is preparing and eating roadkill, animals hit by vehicles and found along roads.It is a practice engaged in by a small subculture in the United States, Southern Canada, the United Kingdom and other Western countries as well as in other parts of the world...

  • Wildlife
    Wildlife
    Wildlife includes all non-domesticated plants, animals and other organisms. Domesticating wild plant and animal species for human benefit has occurred many times all over the planet, and has a major impact on the environment, both positive and negative....

  • Wildlife corridor
    Wildlife corridor
    A wildlife corridor or green corridor is an area of habitat connecting wildlife populations separated by human activities . This allows an exchange of individuals between populations, which may help prevent the negative effects of inbreeding and reduced genetic diversity that often occur within...

  • Wildlife crossing
    Wildlife crossing
    Wildlife crossings are structures that allow animals to cross human-made barriers safely. Wildlife crossings may include: underpass tunnels, viaducts, and overpasses ; amphibian tunnels; fish ladders; tunnels and culverts ; green roofs .Wildlife crossings are a...


External links

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