Volunteers assemble massive roadkill inventory

©Howard Hecht

Roadkill is sometimes the subject of jokes, but it is no laughing matter to Fraser Shilling. He is co-director of the Road Ecology Center at the University of California at Davis. According to data collected by the center, Californians collided with wildlife nearly 6,000 times in a recent one year-period, with more than nine of every 10 of those car accidents involving deer, followed by coyotes, black bears and mountains lions. Not only is the cost of the damage caused by these accidents over $200 million, the accidents can be deadly to both humans and wildlife. Shilling and his colleagues have now assembled over 50,000 observations of roadkill from more than 1,000 volunteers, which is leading to strategies to mitigate hotspots where the collisions occur.

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