• Outdoors Outdoors

Wildlife officials push new citizen app to track roadkill: 'This project gives [us] a chance to be a part of the solution'

"The structures can also be big and expensive, so it's critical to put them in the places where they're most needed."

“The structures can also be big and expensive, so it’s critical to put them in the places where they’re most needed."

Photo Credit: iStock

Oregon wildlife officials have introduced a new mobile app designed to document roadkill incidents across the state.

Through the app, users can easily upload photos and submit roadkill reports to state biologists. According to KOIN, this data will be crucial in identifying roadkill hotspots and mapping them out, enabling officials to place wildlife crossing structures strategically.

"Crossing structures, underpasses, culverts and even simple things like strategically placed plants can save lives, for both people and wildlife," said Rachel Wheat, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife connectivity biologist. "The structures can also be big and expensive, so it's critical to put them in the places where they're most needed. This project helps us figure out where those places are."

Wildlife crossing structures are meticulously designed to emulate natural environments; overpasses often incorporate greenery to create continuous forested corridors. This design enables animals to traverse their habitats without the peril of vehicle collisions. For instance, the Banff Wildlife Crossings Project in Canada has slashed wildlife collisions on the Trans-Canada Highway by 80%, with deer and elk incidents dropping by 96%.

Moreover, these structures play a crucial role in preserving robust animal populations by preventing habitat fragmentation. Roads that bisect animal territories can curtail access to potential mates and diminish genetic diversity, which are critical for species' health and survival. 

By reconnecting fragmented habitats, these structures facilitate unrestricted animal movement and interaction, fostering resilient ecosystems. The success of such initiatives has spurred adoption in regions like Costa Rica, Argentina, and parts of Asia, underscoring their effectiveness in shielding wildlife and enhancing road safety.

Currently, Oregon tracks roadkill incidents involving larger animals such as deer and elk, but smaller species like butterflies and frogs are also at risk on roads. This app aims to address these risks comprehensively by involving the public in data collection and conservation efforts.

"Roadkills are sad and dangerous. Nobody wants to see wildlife that way," Shervin Hess, the Oregon Zoo's conservation manager, told KOIN. "This project gives Oregonians a chance to be a part of the solution and help make our state safer for us all."

By leveraging citizen science, the app not only enhances road safety but also contributes valuable insights for environmental conservation. As users actively participate in reporting roadkill incidents, they contribute to broader efforts aimed at preserving Oregon's biodiversity and promoting sustainable development practices.

The launch of this app underscores Oregon's commitment to innovative solutions that protect wildlife and foster safer travel conditions. As more individuals download and use the app, its impact on wildlife conservation and road safety will continue to grow, setting a precedent for similar initiatives across the country.

Join our free newsletter for cool news and cool tips that make it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider