It’s never a pleasant sight. According to a U.S. Department of Transportation report, an estimated one to two million collisions between cars and large animals happen every year in the U.S.
“The wildlife-vehicle collision is the act and what comes out of that is the roadkill,” Sara DiRienzo, the public information officer at the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, said.
She said that roadkill could be put to good use sometimes.
“29 other states have roadkill collection laws. Wyoming is one of them,” DiRienzo explained.
Collecting roadkill in Wyoming became legal in January – however, there are regulations on what animals you can pick up and what roads you can pick them up from.
All you need is an authorization from the game and fish department.
“In the case of some carcasses, they can be put to beneficial use. If the carcass is not destroyed in the crash, it may be in good enough condition that someone could use it and eat it,” DiRienzo said.
To collect it, you have to get permission from the department. That’s where technology comes in.
“We wanted to find a way that was easy, in everyone’s back pocket, that they could request permission and get it right away,” she said.
In collaboration with the Wyoming Department of Transportation, reporting and picking up roadkill is now easier.
“We are getting reports quicker of those animal-vehicle collisions on the roadway,” Suzie Roseberry, a GIS/ITS Developer with the Wyoming Department of Transportation, said.
Roseberry helped design the Wyoming 511 app, where the reports and permission requests can be entered.
“We need to know migration patterns of these animals so we can mitigate any issues, and we’re hoping that with the public's help, we’ll be able to collect more of this data,” she said.
“One of the major impediments to wildlife movement throughout the United States is roadways,” Kevin Crooks, the director of the Center for Human-Carnivore Coexistence at Colorado State University, said. “Animal-vehicle collisions threaten animals, vehicles, and people.”
That's why, he said, a lot of research is going into wildlife crossings in many areas across the U.S.
“There's a number of solutions out there,” DiRienzo said.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Department of Transportation will continue collecting data to learn more about wildlife movement and collisions while providing a simple way for drivers to pick up the roadkill and put it to use, if possible.
DiRienzo said they would be monitoring the data for those who try to abuse the system.
“There were some concerns that this rule could enable people to illegally take wildlife and say, you know, I hit this animal on the road when they may have poached it,” she said. “If it looks like someone is abusing the system, we can follow up with them and check into it.”