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Road kill – how many animals and birds die on our roads?

As you drive along any road, have you ever thought to count the number of dead animals and birds killed by collisions with vehicles?

Once you start counting you will be horrified by the numbers. On a journey of 50 miles from Bury St Edmunds to Bishops Stortford we at Ecofrenzy once counted 45 pheasants, 2 deer, 3 badgers and endless pigeons, all dead by the roadside. We did not even have a chance to count smaller species. Multiply this up to the thousands of road miles in UK and the numbers must be staggering.

As a comparison, in USA the number of animals killed on the roads is estimated at a million per day, and in Europe up to 27 million birds are estimated to be killed each year.

Project Splatter

There is now research under way called ‘Project Splatter’ to quantify and map wildlife roadkill across the UK.

​What are Project Splatter’s aims?

  1. Collates data on UK wildlife roadkill reported by the public using social media
  2. Estimate the impact of roads on UK wildlife
  3. Determine which species are most observed as roadkill
  4. Raise awareness of this conservation issue
  5. Ultimately reduce the impact of roads on our UK wildlife

​How does Project Splatter work?

​Project Splatter collates data that members of the public send to them on the location of UK wildlife roadkill – birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. This research is run by members of the public – termed citizen scientists. Members of the public see wildlife roadkill and report to them where, when and what, giving as accurate a location as possible.

At Cardiff University the sightings are turned into a grid reference to map where the roadkill is occurring across the UK, this is then reported back to citizen scientists on Twitter and Facebook and added to the Maps page on the Project Splatter site.

As a side issue we have all heard about the badger cull in many counties to help reduce the spread of bovine tuberculosis to cattle however there’s already a badger cull happening… on Britain’s highways. Results collated by Project Splatter indicate that badgers make up to a quarter of the country’s road kill, so is enforced shooting and gassing really necessary?