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Roadkill [Nov. 14th, 2007|03:44 pm]
Well, there's nothing like a road trip to give me all sorts of material. And having just been down to CRF for the weekend, arriving home Monday and then on Tuesday morning getting back into the car and driving out to Wheeling, WV and back again, in one day...

I feel absolutely fortunate that the weather was drop dead gorgeous on all three drives and that I got to see luverly foliage and scenery -- down 81/77 through VA and North Carolina, out 70 in Pennsylvania, back on 68 through WV and Maryland. Oh, I miss the leaves and the hills and the rocks of New England. But thank you the aforementioned states for giving me at least a muted view. You need to work on the bright yellows and scarlets, though, really.

I had the Captain to keep me company, and a book on tape, so my mind couldn't get up to too many hi-jinks, but there were a lot of dead deer on the way down. Which meant that on Tuesday when it was only dog farts for company, I had plenty of thinking time. Sure, I had another book on tape, but I've found that when listening to a book on tape has the same effect on me as reading a book, which is...sleepy, unless it's middle of the day. And that's not good on the interstate. So, I'm playing music and working on not sounding like a Harpy (with poor breath control) when I sing...but there were plenty of brain cells left for other things. So, I started counting roadkill. Deer, really. That were still recognizable as deer, as opposed to a long smear of lumps that presumably had once been a deer.

(Sorry, am I making you queasy? I love my critters, but a fascination with anatomy and physiology makes me all CSI-y when the spirit is gone.)

And, because I'm a geek. And I was bored. And it just seemed like an alarming quantity of deer...and once I got past worrying that they hadn't come to their end quickly, I started thinking about how many people all of these carcasses would feed, and how I really regretted giving my brother those cast off antlers I found, 'cause I'd love to have a set, but only if they were cast-offs and would road kill count and could I bring myself...and what kind of tools did I have in the car...so the sane part of my brain thought it was time to derail THAT thought train so it started counting...

For the record, in my only minorly scientific sampling (since I had the ADD "Oh, look, there's a Barred Owl in that tree" thing going on) I came to the conclusion that both Pennsylvania and West Virginia had about the same number of dead deer per mile of road: 2.5 for an average 2 mile stretch.

But interestingly enough, Maryland had...none.

Now, the Captain has posited that MD deer are just smarter and know to get out of the road. And I suppose that maybe PA and WV have dead deer pickups on Wednesdays and Maryland has it on Mondays...but still, it was sort of...eerie. Or do our rednecks here in MD just have fewer qualms about road harvesting?

[User Picture]From: fountaingirl
2007-11-14 09:10 pm (UTC)
OMG my daughter does the same thing, counts roadkill! But she doesn't separate out by species, just calls out "one," "two," etc. The entire way on any road trip at all, but esp when we go from WV to VA to visit toxins.
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[User Picture]From: pyllgrum
2007-11-14 09:12 pm (UTC)
I see a least one new roadkill deer on my trek from Laurel to Baltimore each wee, and its 52 miles roundtrip times 5 which is one deer per 260 miles.

Also, the MD DOT has crews assigned to remove deer from the roadway. I rarely see a carcass the day after I sight it on my commute.
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[User Picture]From: pyllgrum
2007-11-14 09:14 pm (UTC)
That would be "each week" not "each wee". I piss myself off sometimes.
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[User Picture]From: majorchaos
2007-11-14 09:28 pm (UTC)
My lovely lass tells me she read a report that there were fewer scavanger birds around now because that bird flu is killing them off and so we get to see more road kill because of less birds. It seems a definite possibility. Then again, I'm thinking the deer and other critters are just playing a sort of russian roulette or some version of chicken... hmmm... if we call "playing chicken" dodging cars and the like, what do chickens call it? If one manages to cross the road successfully, we should ask it.
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[User Picture]From: pyratelady
2007-11-15 06:03 am (UTC)
if we call "playing chicken" dodging cars and the like, what do chickens call it?

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[User Picture]From: chellebelle74
2007-11-14 09:44 pm (UTC)
When I was a lass in high school I dated a red-neck type guy named Fred. He actually had several friends and family members who would do just that - harvest road kill. One neighbor in particular did it a lot. The husband of the family had a lot of trouble finding and/or keeping a job (I didn't ask so I can't tell you why) and he spent a lot of his days either cruising the road for fresh road kill or listening to a radio tuned to the frequencies that MDOT used so he could hear about new kills and hopefully get it before it spoiled. Most of the family's meat came from that.

I've also been told by employees in various state DOTs that, especially in rural areas, as long as the carcass is fresh enough that it is frequently donated to homeless shelters to feed the less fortunate. Just what I was told anyway....
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[User Picture]From: giantsloth
2007-11-14 09:46 pm (UTC)
We were alarmed by the abundance of roadkill we spotted on the drive down to CRF last weekend. Much more than earlier in the fall. Some of it in the form of those road blossoms: a flattened mass of fur and then a giant plume of gore.

Great to see you, although it was much too brief.
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[User Picture]From: meapet
2007-11-14 10:14 pm (UTC)

Maryland Deer

The area you're out in they actually have more room to Roam and live I would think, and if I remember my hunting schedules well, it is rifle season in Maryland. Its only Archery Season in West Virginia I believe. This leads to the following theory which your observations seems to add proof to my theory

Basically,having a hunter for a father, I've come to the conclusion that most of the deer have a really big cave that has a tunnel that sends all deer to the Metro DC area during hunting season because they know they're safe here. Only the stupid deer end up being out, which is why I haven't had good chipped venison from a deer my dad's shot in close to 10 years.

So that is why Maryland had none..Rifles=hiding season.
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From: pyrateatlarge
2007-11-14 10:56 pm (UTC)
All the deer in Maryland are implanted at birth with the "Fri-chip." This chip causes them to avoid one of the deer's few remaining predators. . . the asphalt. Back in the day of dirt roads, one never saw roadkill and even on concrete highways, the count is much lower.

The asphalt gives off a cooling breeze under the sun not heat which is a widely-known rumor. . deer enjoy the breeze. The cold-yet-hot asphalt surface also causes a re-alignment in the special scratch-n-sniff non-reflective paint now being used by the Maryland Department of Linepainting. This re-alignment attracts the eye of the deer, causing the large mammal to lick the road. Road licking causes a condition called "Deer Caught In The Headlights" at night, when deer look up into your headlights and literally freeze from the asphalt cooling process.

Now that the "Fri-chip" program has been instituted, the deer now tend to flip motorists off from the roadside instead of being pulled to the asphalt. Please note that this "deer flip" is a painful side-effect of the "Fri-chip" due to the deer not having toes.

Thus, there is a movement in the state senate to promote another veterinary measure for wild deer to stop the "deer flipping" phenomenon. This "To-chip" will stop the deer from causing any undue pain affected from the "Fri-chip."

It is hoped that one day deer will no longer be a road hazzard thanx to the combined efforts of the "Frito chips."
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[User Picture]From: 3fingeredsalute
2007-11-14 11:17 pm (UTC)

Dear, oh dear

I can't attest to all of the states (which is somewhat odd to me, because I have actually lived in several you passed through) but I know that Maryland is pretty good about picking up the dead animals. I say this, because I have had to call for them to come pick some of them up.

Somewhat disturbingly, the DC Metro area had an interesting policy governing these fallen animals. If the carcass is in decent enough condition (and is recovered "in time"), there was a private contractor who would come collect the roadkill and prepare it to provide food for homeless shelters. [insert joke here] I can't find any recent credible mention of it on the Interweb now, but I'm sure it must just be backed up in the tubes. Either that, or a superb example of an urban legend.

Post Note: I did find an interesting site while quickly browsing for the homeless program. Apparently Maryland also MAPS where these deer are struck and collected. They use little red dots (how clever) as well as counts for counties. Interesting study, if you have the stomach for such a thing.
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[User Picture]From: mistressfetch
2007-11-15 03:23 pm (UTC)
I think NC is the place where p*ssed skunks go to commit suicide by jumping out in traffic...I *smelled* at least 3 within a 30 minute stretch of I-77..(and it wasn't a dog fart...)
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