Help stop roadkills
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1993:
DERRY, N.H., CHARLOTTE, Vt., and
SHUSHAN, N.Y.––You too can help prevent roadkills, by
taking a copy of the survey form on page 7 of this issue with
you the next time you go walking.
Every roadkill you record will help in a concerted
effort to identify the characteristics of “killing zones” that
attract multiple roadkills, and help as well to develop a
defensive defensive driving curriculum that could save mil-
lions of animal lives.
Two parallel but cooperating teams are collecting
roadkill observations: a nationwide network of middle
school students assembled by environmental science teacher
Brewster Bartlett of Pinkerton Academy in Derry, New
Hampshire, and the readers of Country Life magazine and
Bartlett, no relation to ANIMAL PEOPLE pub-
lisher Kim Bartlett, was named Environmental Teacher of
the Year on June 14 by the Society for the Protection of
New Hampshire Forests, in recognition of Dr. Splatt’s
Roadkill Monitoring Project, a high-tech enterprise he
developed to introduce students to the use of computers in
doing scientific research. Students from 30 middle schools
and high schools around New England fed roadkill counts to
Dr. Splatt and each other throughout April and May. They
recorded the deaths of more than 1,600 animals, including
400 grey squirrels––141 of them in a single week. Eighty-
three raccoons were killed in another apparent high-risk
week, along with 52 birds, many of whom might have been
feeding on the dead raccoons. Other weeks showed spikes
in the number of beaver, skunk and rat roadkills.
If the spikes prove to be repetitively predictable,
such roadkills may be prevented by issuing advisories to
motorists via traffic reports: “Skunks are coming out of
hibernation this week. If you come up behind one, d o n ‘ t
slow down suddenly, as they’ll look around and step
straight into your path.”
ANIMAL PEOPLE is currently refining the Dr.
Splatt project data, and will describe it further in our
September humane education section.
Dr. Splatt, meanwhile, is taking his project nationwide. It has
already been used to teach lessons in ecology, biology, math, geogra-
phy, and language skills, as well as in computer skills, and has been
used successfully not only by mainstream and advanced students, but
also by special education students, i.e. the mentally handicapped, those
in remedial programs, and those considered to be at high risk of dropping
out. Teachers may obtain details by sending SASE to Brewster Bartlett,
Pinkerton Academy, 8 Pinkerton Street, Derry, NH 03038. A revised
teacher’s manual for Dr. Splatt’s Roadkill Monitoring Project is to be
published in late summer, priced at cost (probably around $5.00).
The Country Life/ANIMAL PEOPLE Roadkill Census,
intended to supplement the Dr. Splatt project, is an outgrowth of the
informal roadkill census ANIMAL PEOPLE began last November,
expanded with the aid of Country Life editor Jake Chapline, who was
introduced to it by New Hampshire wildlife consultant Karl Olsen.
While the Dr. Splatt project provides comprehensive data during the par-
ticularly critical spring season, when the most young animals are out and
about, the Roadkill Census will document roadkill activity throughout
the rest of the year, and provide comparative information in the spring.
The questionaire at right will be reprinted at regular intervals
throughout the next year. We welcome reproduction of the questionaire
for more frequent use, or use by entire organizations.
Though the Dr. Splatt project and the Roadkill Census are the
first nationwide attempts ever to gather information that can help prevent
roadkills, insurance statistics already indicate that animal/car collisions
kill 130 people per year, injuring 7,000, and that animals in the road
cause one accident in 10, more than any other cause but drunk driving.