Roadkill Research: Making Highways Less Hazardous

UC Davis researcher Fraser Shilling and colleagues created a website for Californians to report on roadkill. The goal is to collect data that could help transportation planners and conservation managers design more wildlife-friendly roads.

"Thousands of animals are killed on California’s roads every day, including endangered species. This is a threat to the state’s natural legacy and, for some species, their very existence," said Shilling, a research associate and co-director of the UC Davis Road Ecology Center.

The Center aims to improve transportation systems by studying the impacts of roads on natural ecosystems and human communities. The first year of the study collected 6,700 roadkill observations by 300 people, involving 205 animal species from acorn woodpeckers to zebratail lizards. The most common victims were raccoons.

Shilling hopes to expand the project to include focused studies on particular types of roads, roadkill website development in other states, and analyses of the causes of wildlife-vehicle collisions. Shilling has already launched a similar effort for Maine in partnership with Maine Audubon.