is an animal or animals that have been
struck and killed by motor vehicles
Mammals are the animals most likely to be recorded as roadkill. To
reduce the possibility of striking animals some road authorities
use signs or create underpasses.
During the early 20th century, roadkill or "flat meats" became a
common sight in all industrialized First
nations as they adopted the internal combustion engine
. Roadkill can be eaten and
there are several recipe books dedicated to roadkill. (See Roadkill cuisine
, 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 kangaroos
indicate that the Australian experience has some unique features
with road kill.
The Simmons Society was founded by Professor Roger M. Knutson of Luther
College in Decorah, Iowa, US 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".
The number of road fauna present on a given stretch of freeway is
said to follow a Poisson
. Some researchers believe that lunar phases
have an effect on the amount of
road kills. Further study is needed to support this hypothesis
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 and relation with 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
25 schools throughout New
England participated in a roadkill study involving 1,923
By category, the fatalities were:
this 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:
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
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
Michigan roadkill analysis
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
, Michigan uses roadkill statistics to estimate its
Collisions with animals can have many negative consequences,
besides the obvious consequence of likely death to the victim.
- Vehicle damage
- Harm to endangered
- Injury to, or death of, pets
- Injury to, or death of, vehicle occupants
Lost pet skunks
vulnerable since they lack a sense of direction and cannot see
objects more than about 3 m
) away with any clarity.
Collisions with animals with antlers (e.g., deer) are particularly
dangerous as the head has a tendency to separate and come through
, 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
can be mounted on vehicles to
warn deer of approaching automobiles, though their effectiveness is
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
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 the dark than in the light). Furthermore, the glare of vehicle
headlights can dazzle some species, such as rabbits
: They will freeze in the road rather than
flee. The simple tactics of reducing speed and scanning
sides of the road for foraging
deer can improve driver safety at night.
Drivers may see the glow of a deer's eyes before seeing the animal
to travel over or underneath roads. They are most widely used in
, but have also been installed in a few
U.S. locations and in parts of Western
. As new highways
to become increasingly fragmented, these
crossings could play a crucial role in protecting endangered
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
and other species.
In the American West
may pass through large areas designated as "open range", meaning
that no fences separate drivers from large animals such as cattle
. 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
A few states now have sophisticated systems to protect motorists
from large animals. One of these systems is called RADS
(Roadway Animal Detection System). A solar powered
sensor detects animals near the
roadway and flashes a light to alert oncoming drivers.
The Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation
is an example of an
organization advocating roadkill prevention.
Forest, in southern England, there is a
proposal to fence roads to protect the New Forest pony.
proposal is controversial .
- People using highway bridges for shelter should be aware that a
bridge constitutes a trap for any animal that wanders on to it, and
runoff cascading from the bridge during a rainstorm has often come
into intimate contact with long-dead roadkill.
- 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
utilization of accidentally killed animals, they became the butt of
stereotyping and derisive humor .
- Roadkill is sometimes used as an art form. Some of these
artists are formally trained in traditional taxidermy preparation while others are merely
experimenting. Roadkill as art is not new, American artist Stephen Paternite has been exhibiting
roadkill pieces since the 1970s..
are a commonly squashed animal
because their first instinct to a threat (in this case, a car) is
to jump in the air. The car does not stop, and therefore kills the
Japan, a railway roadkill
is sometimes referred to as "tuna"
(maguro; マグロ). Because the dead body's head and feet are
chopped off by the train, it looks like a piece of frozen tuna in a
market (the tail of a tuna is always chopped off to
examine its fat content).
Tuna (Railroad Accident)
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
- Report shows high animal road kill toll in
- Roger M. Knutson
- Road kills: Assessing insect casualties using
- Erritzoe J., Mazgajski T. D., Rejt Ł. 2003. Bird casualties on
European roads — a review. Acta Ornithol. 38: 77–93.
- Roadkill 2007 – Summary of Past Data
- Animal People Newspaper
- The Art of Dead Mice