The large and small critters who scurry across the rural roads and urban highways may not know it, but there is a person who is concerned with their well being. While he is often referred to as Dr Roadkill, his real name is Ron Ringen. A retired veterinarian, Ringen has been driving the roads of Davis, California searching for remnants of some poor creature who was run-over by a vehicle.
When Ringen finds roadkill, he stops his vehicle and does extensive research over the body. He takes pictures and identifies the location using a GPS device. As a result of his work, he has a log of more than 1,400 incidences of roadkill. His records detail the death of a wide range of animals, from a one-ounce sparrow to a 1,500 pound Angus bull.
Ringen is not the only human concerned with the plight of animals killed on the roads. Hundreds of other people volunteer their time to report roadkill data to a website called the California Roadkill Observation System. Researchers at the University of California at Davis created the site. Just like Dr. Roadkill, volunteers use GPS devices and photographs to document roadkill and then uploads the info to the site. Researchers use the information to determine where animals cross roads. It is hoped that authorities will then put up warning signs at the locations to alert drivers.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, one million animals are killed by vehicles every day. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that accidents involving animals result in more than $8 billion in damage a year. Moreover, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that about 200 people die every year in accidents that involve larger creatures like deer.
The data gathered by such sites as California Roadkill Observation System can help organizations like the Federal Highway Administration. The agency gives money to state transportation departments to pay for ways to minimize roadkill. Methods include fences, bridges, tunnels and electronic animal detection warning systems.
People who are concerned about the problem of roadkill are urged to get involved, gather data and post it at the California Roadkill Observation System. If the creatures you save can talk, they would no doubt thank you for your efforts.