A roadkill researcher identified California’s Interstate 280 as a death trap for wildlife, concluding that crashes between vehicles and animals in the state occur most frequently along the busy stretch from San Jose to San Francisco.
Of the 700,000 traffic crashes across the state last year, about 6,000 involved wild animals, including deer and mountain lions, according to a report released last week by Fraser Shilling, co-director of the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis.
Lower speed limits, warning signs and structures that promote safe animal crossings could help prevent wildlife collisions, Shilling said. For example, squirrels would use rope bridges to cross roads if they are available, he noted.
Other roadways that saw clusters of roadkill were Interstate 80 between Davis and Sacramento and State Route 89 north of Lake Tahoe.
Wildlife living in and near national parks and other protected areas can be threatened by vehicles. Reptiles such as snakes, lizards, small mammals and endangered desert tortoises often get hit in Death Valley, along State Route 190, Shilling said. Similarly, dead wildlife is often found along highways near Yosemite National Park.
“So, our protected spaces aren’t so protected, whether it’s an open space in the Bay Area or in the national parks,” Shilling said in a news release. “Traffic is leading to the loss of wildlife of a lot of different stripes.”
While there were fewer animal deaths reported on Southern California roads, the report identified State Route 94 in San Diego County as a hot spot. Other spots include State Route 126 in Ventura and U.S. 101 near Lompoc and San Luis Obispo.
The report drew, in part, on data from the California Roadkill Observation System, which compiles accounts from more than 1,000 volunteers and other passers-by. The research looked at data from February 2015 to February 2016.
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