Roadkill is a less than glamorous topic. Carcasses of raccoons, deer, and other wildlife strewn across the highway are an eyesore and distraction to drivers. Despite its unattractive nature, roadkill can provide important information to researchers who study the dynamic relationship between roadways and wildlife.
Records of the species and where they are found provide data that can be used to create a safer environment for wildlife and drivers alike. Unfortunately, data is scarce and often inaccurate because the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) does not require their employees to log records of their pickups.
That’s where we come in.
We, the Wildlife and Invasives Team, want to pilot a project that tests the viability of a program that requires DOT personnel to keep simple, yet important reports of roadkill on New York State highways. Once compiled, these records can be utilized by DOT and independent researchers to provide safer passage across roadways for wildlife, thereby saving both animals and humans from damage, both physical and monetary. Without guidance, there is no way to discern where the need is greatest. These improvements may be realized through the retrofitting of existing culverts, construction of new structures and exclusionary fencing, or early detection and warning of drivers.
As roadways expand and the human population increases, safety concerns over wildlife-vehicle accidents will steadily rise. The more information available, the more options there will be to create a plan of action to curb the deaths and injuries in New York State. In order to achieve a sustainable practice, we must devise a practical incentive that meets the needs of the participating organization as well as providing accurate, reliable databases for research and project implementation.