Roadkills On The Road To DEB

Spring 1994: Skunks Lead the Way

In my recent drive to my last ecosystem panel meeting, the joy and euphoria led me to tabulate the frequency of road-kills on my trek to DEB, US 250 to US 29N to I 66 to Ballston. I used the odometer method to record distances between little flat guys. I recorded the distance in miles and tenths between road kill pairs. My transit speed averaged a double-nickel surpassing 65 mph on a four-lane highway. If anything, I probably missed a flat form every so often. I did not tabulate species but skunks, cats, squirrels, dogs, raccoons, and crows, roughly the order by abundance.

A few notes are in order. Skunks are first on the list. It’s spring and the skunk, groggy from their winter's rest, are a better harbinger of spring than the robin.

Given the number of pickups in Virginia, our proud whitetail deer do not remain long on the road. They are soon table-bound.

Squirrels, by my observation, tend to be hit by passenger-side wheels. I think they see a car coming and begin serious debate about getting to the other side of the road and then make the dash, as the car is only meters away. They make the dash, just missing the front wheel. They then decide it was a bad idea and return from whence they came, only to find that the American car is usually a two axle vehicle and the rear, passenger-side wheel does its thing.

I found a corpus every 2.1 miles plus or minus 1.1 miles. That is based on 75 interval measures and in excess of 120 individual squashes. The longest wait I had was 6.1 miles. As I approached environs near Ballston, Virginia and DEB on Route 66, the number road kills dropped off markedly. My hypotheses include:

  1. Washington drivers brake for animals
  2. The HOV (high occupancy vehicles) laws mean that extra riders are at a premium
  3. DEB has no cafeteria
  4. The efficacy of the suburban animal wardens is outstanding
  5. The visible, on-the-road duration of a kill is a function of the total number of wheels that pass a point per unit time

I walked the highway near my house and found that bone fragments could be found on the shoulder about every 10 yards. I am not a trained "osteologist" and besides, digs along a highway shoulder is not a way to avoid being a flat fauna yourself.

Given all the turbines on the landscape, gossip has it that data on Windkills is being taken.

Word on the street is that a dead-avian Towerkill dataset for the Sears Tower is already data-based.


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