Years ago, Hugh and I were coming home from a late show and noticed a crew of stray cats feeding in the middle of the road. We slowed down and saw that someone had dumped a load of meat parts in the middle of a normally busy street. The strays were simply taking advantage of a free meal. But they were at great risk of becoming road kill themselves.
So what do you do? Pick up shards of beef fat from the middle of the road at 1:00 in the morning?
Yup. We tossed as much meat as possible to the side of the road, hoping to avert what would have been a roadkill tragedy for any animal sniffing out food in the middle of the street.
The story of animals and roads is gruesome enough. Few avenues were built and designed with wildlife crossings in mind. Many roads are built through migration corridors, effectively cutting one area of habitat from the other and making for a natural disaster as animals migrate on their natural trajectories. As a result, cars claim up to 400 million animals a year in the U.S. — about 1 million animals a day. And a portion of those killed are carrion feeders, standing in the road, eating what’s already been struck.
Once in a while, we’ll find a Turkey Vulture just inches from being road kill itself, as it struggles with a piece of meat on the highway. The vulture pictured here was on a less traveled road in Mt. Diablo State Park.
But, it was feasting in the middle, around a blind corner. So Hugh moved the long-dead squirrel off to the side as the vulture likely wondered what on earth we were doing with its meal.
If it’s prudent and safe — if we’re careful and have the means to do so without injuring ourselves or anyone else — we do our part to help the carrion-eating creatures of the world by moving their meals to a safer spot. Of course, this is taking into consideration all factors: road safety, personal safety, sanitation, discernment over what to move and what not to move.
One additional resource: I found this sheet on Road Kill Avoidance Tips from Earth Caretaker — using knowledge of an animal’s flight response to understand how you may prevent hitting him or her on the road.
Related post: Road Kill and Wildlife Crossings