Posts Tagged ‘roadkill’

New England Lion

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

A mountain lion (puma concolor) was struck by an SUV near Milford, Connecticut in June. DNA samples showed it had come from South Dakota! Pretty wild. Folks have been spotting and tracking lions in New England for years. They used to be native to the northeast before all the development.


Friday, July 29th, 2011

falco sparverius

Here is a female American Kestrel, falco sparverius, that was killed on the highway by my home.  Such an incredibly beautiful being to look at up close despite its tragic death. As i studied it, a male kestrel alighted on top of the pine across the highway from where i sat, making its shrill “killy-killy” call.


Here’s her underside.  The male is a sight to behold. An incredibly rich blue on the wings and head. Its quite a beautiful bird. In general, males are more colorful than females in bird species.


Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Black-tailed jackrabbit

Recently saw an amazing talk by Fraser Shilling of the UC Davis “Road Ecology” department. That is, the study of how wildlife relates to human transportation systems. He said according to the Humane Society :


animals die


from auto travel in the US.

He started a website called in which citizens of California can enter roadkill observations onto the site as a means of making an accurate picture of roadkill patterns statewide. Its incredible. Check it out.

This is a Black-tailed Jackrabbit (lepus californicus) that was killed on the local highway, Hwy 49, last week.

Bassariscus Astutus

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Bassariscus astutus

Bassariscus astutus. Also known as the Ringtail or Miners Cat. The old gold miners used to adopt these guys as pets to keep the local rodent population down (they hunt mice). This one was found dead on highway 49 in Nevada City just before the Yuba crossing. Ringtails typically are found along rocky outcroppings in riparian habitats (along rivers). I had seen this one cross the same spot in the road a year and a half ago. Animals are often very habitual in their movements.

ringtail fore feet

I am trying to make a project happen where we would gather information about the movements of animals such as this Ringtail in relation to the well used auto highways in Nevada and nearby counties. This basically needs to happen all over the country/world.  Back closer to the begining of the century when automobile travel began to get very popular, a big influx of cars came into use along with roadways to accomodate them. However the engineers who designed these roadways didn’t really put much attention into whether or not animals could live with these highways in a harmonious fashion. Animals are very similar to your uncle Craig or your aunt Betsy or your sister, mom, dad, etc. They need to drink when they get thirsty, they get really hungry, like as hungry as when you get back from school/work hungry, they need to keep their body temperature above a certain level, they need mating – partners. And just like the way we drive to the market, or drive to the clothing store, or drive to the singles bar, they walk, run or hop to various places to get their most basic needs met. This means that they move, travel from one location to another, and the bigger the animal is, the bigger space, or territory it needs to get these needs met. A male mountain lion often will have a territory, an area of repeated use, of one-hundred and twenty square miles. Now imagine using a space like that and trying to fit it in with Interstate 80 or any other major freeway found all over the continent. If you imagine for long enough your mind will eventually come to the same scenario that one sees all the time will driving everyday along your local roads: Roadkill. Dead animals. Dead mothers, dead fathers, dead aunt Betsy, dead uncle Craig, just trying to get to work. Last spring I had to take care of a frozen young coyote pup whos mother had been killed on the road just outside my driveway. My heart broke.

killsite , highway 49, Nevada City, CA

Anyways………… So we need land bridges, and culverts, and tunnels. Ways for mammals and amphibians, and reptiles to cross well used auto roads without dying. Its called Connectivity. Green patches are great, but you also need green links between the green patches. Being at home is great but when the fridge gets empty, unless you have a garden you need to go out to the local farm or market to get something to eat. And what do we use to get there? Roads. Just like us, animals have home space where they rest, play and relax, but they also need pathways that affords them protection to get to other spaces where there  is food, water and so forth.

The  picture with the red in the background is that of the Ringtails front feet. Ringtails are most closely related to the Raccoon and Coati family, hence the ringed tail, but they kind of act cat-like or weasel-like. They are silent as ghosts. I witnessed one walk about thirty feet over dried up oak/madrone debris forest floor without making a sound. I didn’t hear a thing until it stared growling at me up in a tree thirty feet later.  Studying the paws of this one i thought they most resembled miniature otter feet.

ringtail hind feet

Basically we are all just like our brother and sister animals. Everything we need comes from Mother Nature but we wrap it all and ourselves is so much plastic, metal, styrofoam, polyester and rubber that we forget where it all came from in the first place. Then we bring babies into this man-made set up who are brought up and go for their whole life never seeing the original connection of their food, water, and shelter. The golden field of grain that your Mcdonald burger bun originated , the snow capped mountain that drained into your Poland Spring water bottle, the majestic redwood that stood for hundreds of years, housing generations of flying squirrels and raccoons in its trunk, which is now the banister of your winter ski-lodge resort. Etcetera.  The interesting thing is that alot of people don’t really care all that much. i am trying to understand this one. “Don’t tell me about that. Just let me eat my roast chicken in peace.” , they say as we sit at the restaurant table. How do we get that connection again? Love? That’s how the investigation began for me. I keep wondering if that can work for everyone, or are me and my friends are just weird. Well we are definitely weird,  but maybe not in a bad way.