American Highways Kill Animals In So Many Different Ways

A photo of a dead deer by the side of a road.
A photo of a dead deer by the side of a road.

Can we all try and not hit the wildlife, maybe?

Sadly, a dead animal by the side of the road is an all too familiar sight for many drivers in America. On a recent trip upstate, I lost count of the number of dead deer left by the side of the road or other animals flattened into obscurity by hundreds of car tires. But now, a new report warns that America’s roads are doing much more damage to the country’s wildlife.

A new report from Bloomberg explained that while as many as one million animals are killed in strikes with cars across America every year, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ecological damage caused by cars. In fact, roadkill accounts for less than a quarter of the number of animals killed every year as a result of our love affair with the automobile.


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A photo of a smashed car after it hit a moose.
A photo of a smashed car after it hit a moose.

Tricky to say whether the moose or car won here?

What’s more, the impact cars have on animals is actually going against everything we learned about evolution in school. Back then, we were taught that the fastest, strongest and most successful animals are the ones that survive to adulthood and pass on their genes.

However, Goldfarb found that it was often the stronger animals that are caught up as roadkill, or it’s a higher percentage of female animals that are killed by cars purely due to where they birth their young, as he explained:

I think about turtles, which I’ve always loved. The issue with them is that the females go wandering away from the pond looking for places to lay their eggs, and they cross roads in the process. So it’s the females that are getting killed. In many ponds, the males now vastly outnumber the females.

And this then begs the question, can America’s animals ever live in harmony with the country’s roads? According to Goldfarb: no. He argues that “wilderness is roadless,” and suggests that the “worst possible thing you can do for wildlife” in an untouched area of the country is build a road into it.

A photo of a wildlife bridge crossing a highway.
A photo of a wildlife bridge crossing a highway.

Animals have learned to use bridges like this one.

However, there are ways in which we can attempt to reduce the impact roads have on America’s wildlife. Goldfarb discusses the way animals have learned to use wildlife crossings to safely navigate highways and while he believes they are a good thing, he does warn that they “effectively address” only a handful of the issues roads and cars pose to America’s wildlife.

The whole interview is a fascinating read for anyone interested in the way wildlife and roadways interact. It can be found in full here.

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