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Website aims for wildlife-safe highways

UC DAVIS (US)—A citizen science survey website is expected to assist transportation planners and conservation managers design more wildlife-friendly roads and cut down on roadkill—a serious concern among ecologists.

“Thousands of animals are killed on California’s roads every day, including endangered species,” says Fraser Shilling, a researcher and co-director of the Road Ecology Center at the University of California at Davis.

“This is a threat to the state’s natural legacy and, for some species, their very existence.”

To collect data, Shilling created the California Roadkill Observation System—a website where the public can record roadkill observations.

The first year of reporting in California includes 6,700 roadkill observations by 300 people involving 205 animal species from acorn woodpeckers to zebratail lizards, with raccoons being the most common victims.

In the near future, 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  launched a similar effort for the state of Maine with Maine Audubon.

The UC Davis roadkill research is a joint effort of two university programs, the Road Ecology Center and the Information Center for the Environment.

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