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Californians Urged to Report Roadkill

PHOTO:  The fisher is a medium-sized carnivore that is on the brink of extinction partly because of vehicle collisions. Californians can help biologists protect them by reporting roadkill to wildlifecrossing.net.
PHOTO: The fisher is a medium-sized carnivore that is on the brink of extinction partly because of vehicle collisions. Californians can help biologists protect them by reporting roadkill to wildlifecrossing.net.
May 6, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - About 1 million animals are killed on America's roads every day, pushing some species to the brink of extinction. The problem is particularly acute in California's national forests and parks, including Yosemite, where conservationists are building special tunnels for wildlife to cross roads safely.

Humans have to know where to build the tunnels, so Fraser Shilling, co-director of the Road Ecology Center at the University of California-Davis, is asking the public to report roadkill on the website wildlifecrossing.net.

"It's open to anybody to participate in," he said, "and helps us to understand where there are conflicts between wildlife and vehicles and possibly what we can do about it."

The California Roadkill Observation System also helps biologists track animal movements.

One species, a medium-sized carnivore called a fisher, is estimated to have only 300 adults left in its Southern Sierra population. Pamela Flick, California representative for Defenders of Wildlife, said the fisher now is a candidate to be listed as an endangered species on the West Coast.

"The amount of fishers being hit by cars in the Southern Yosemite area could actually be causing a decline in the species," she said.

Sandra Jacobson, a U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist, said the roadkill isn't just a problem for the animals.

"We have usually about 200 people per year killed in animal-vehicle collisions in the U.S.," she said, "and in addition to that, there is literally billions of dollars in other costs including human injuries and then property damage. "

Some of the most often reported animals killed on California roads include mule deer and barn owls.

The California Roadkill Observation System is online at wildlifecrossing.net/California.

Suzanne Potter/Dallas Heltzell, Public News Service - CA