Maine conservationists are hopeful a new database about roadkill will protect the state's critters from becoming statistics.
Maine Audubon's online database will let residents who see roadkill report the sighting. That will allow the group to identify roadkill "hotspots" that are especially dangerous for animals.
For years, the way the Maine State Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Audubon kept track of roadkill has been an online database.
Now, that database has expanded to collect data from anyone who spots roadkill. Anyone can uploading information about and a picture of an animal they see on or near a road to inaturalist.org, allowing scientists to gather species, strike locations and other data about the killed or injured animals.
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“Some of our species that are getting hit by cars are in very serious decline,” said Sally Stockwell, director of conservation at Maine Audubon. “This is something we can control.”
With everyday people collecting data points, the Audubon and state agencies can coordinate to put up signage warning drivers about animal crossings or build tunnels under roads for animals to travel through.
“Anything we can do for these species means they’re going to do better in the long run,” said Stockwell.
Proponents of the roadkill database say it could be especially helpful for protection of turtles. The slow reptiles are vulnerable to car strikes and tend to take a long time to reach reproductive age. The database could also help track deer and moose fatalities.
It's an especially dire situation for turtles in Maine where at least two species are in danger of becoming extinct.
“They don’t breed until they’re 15 to maybe 30-years-old,” said Stockwell. “It can really crash the population.”
Thursday drivers at Waldo’s General Store in Falmouth said they would consider helping with responses ranging from “a hard maybe” to “yes, definitely.”
Maine Audubon is working on the effort with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and University of California, Davis. Money for the project has been generated through the sales of Maine's loon license plates.