Roadkill

This summer I hit a deer with my truck. The deer died, my truck sustained

Macrochelys temminckii, a turtle that hopefully would be avoided by most motorists.

Macrochelys temminckii, a turtle that hopefully would be avoided by most motorists.

damage, and I felt like a jerk. During my bicycle touring days, I used to keep lists of the animals I found dead alongside the road each day – it was amazing (and sobering from a cyclist safety viewpoint) the number of dead animals you would see. My daughter’s first insect collection was comprised of roadkill insects, and who among us hasn’t collected an insect specimen off of the grill of car? Cars kill wildlife.

Nathan Weaver has been using a realistic rubber turtle to study motorist behavior and has found that ~ 2% of drivers will intentionally swerve to hit the turtle. Box turtles are declining in Eastern North America, and in addition to habitat issues, their behavior predisposes them to increased vehicle mortality. People intentionally hitting them only exacerbates the issue.

If a robo-deer can be used to catch poachers, it seems that Nathan’s work gives law enforcement the opportunity to catch motorists who take state protected species with their callous actions utilizing a similar technology. Animals have killed each other since there were animals. The fish I had for dinner did not die of natural causes, but killing just to kill is murder. I look forward to reading Nathan’s work when it is published, a question I have is: how many of the motorists were too busy texting to notice the turtle at all and how does this impact the data?

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