An Excess of Roadkill in Brattleboro

I’ve had an opportunity to drive around a bit more than usual, and one thing that pretty clear: there are a lot of dead animals on the road right now.

Skunks and squirrels seem to be the primary victims. They are all over, but also concentrated in some places. There’s a spot on Putney Rd where quite a few have failed to make it all the way across. There’s a place along Rt 30 near the bridge that also seems to have a bit of a pileup.

I blame drivers. Why? Because I’ve had both skunks and squirrels run out in front of me recently and I’ve been able to stop for them.

A few tips for reducing the roadkill:

  1. Drive the speed limit. Yeah, it’s too slow, I know. But do it.
  2. Watch the edges of the road ahead of you. Expect that a small animal will run out. Plan on it happening. Be prepared to stop.
  3. If you see a squirrel, slow down/stop and honk your horn. It should happily bound out of the road to safety.
  4. If you see a skunk, know that it might turn around when scared and run back to where it came from. Wait until it is out of the road before driving by.
  5. Don’t be an ass and speed up to hit the animal. You are being cruel. (Hitting a skunk in town also is mean to the people who live near it.)

As someone who really likes animals, it’s depressing to drive around right now. There are patches of smushed fur and guts all over the town.  If this many pedestrians had been killed, we’d ban driving altogether until we found a solution.

So, on behalf of small animals who asked me to write this, drive carefully and stop running them over. They thank you in advance.

Comments | 6

  • Squirrel Love

    I recently heard an answer to something that has had me puzzled since mid summer and that is; what pray tell is with the increase in roadside carnage to the point a deceased squirrel could actually be used as a quarter mile marker there are that many dead ones stopped in their tracks from under tire(s) that stamp out their little lives?, but then again also provide free food for crows, ravens, turkey vultures and alike up to a point of excess. These scavengers must be really sick of tenderized squirrel meat or just looking at them(carcasses) in multitudes, bits and pieces and all that litter the roadways these days!

    On a recent road trip we counted at least 50 dead squirrels alone(we blessed to a happier place) not to mention many other nocturnal creatures opossums, raccoons, skunks and even minks. Very and always sad.

    But there is a partial explanations for the lemming like proportions of roadkill squirrels, not suicide with Trump in office, but because of, and due to a surplus, bumper crop of acorns last year that created a squirrel population explosion according to VPR as if there aren’t already too many.

    Other factors may be acorns that land in the road then to be crushed by passing cars make for an easy snack and then the squirrels are hardly paying attention and of course any curve in the road that doesn’t allow for escape. I have had to stop many times every time I go out to drive because of squirrels that dart back and forth and just can’t make up their mind which way to go. Is this a way Darwin would say is a way to keep the smarter squirrels alive and eliminating by natural selection those less intelligent squirrels?
    No I don’t think that is it, I just think these animals will never evolve toward being car or traffic wise or it would have already happened. So like Chris said it is up to us to be on the look out and brake for the little creatures even though sometimes it’s impossible to avoid the last second darter.

  • Teen squirrels?

    There is quite the crop of squirrel youngsters on my street, and the ones that I see trying to cross badly (or have failed to cross successfully) are often the younger-looking ones.

  • Our squirrel

    ‘Our’ squirrel scares us daily with romps across Cedar Street. She likes to bury nuts across the street.

    She’s been doing it for 3-4 years, and so far as avoided any problems. I trust her to do her best, but I don’t really trust drivers.

    As for an acorn explosion, a neighboring landlord cut down the 120 year old oak a few years ago, which wiped out acorns in our vicinity. We had been very carefully growing a replacement over the last 15 years or so – a child of the one that was cut down. It was just getting big enough to grow its first few acorns, and had gotten to a perfect size to attract some birds and block some boring views… then our NEW landlord came and cut it down. (This, after I specifically pointed out its value to people and animals living here. Cut the very next morning!)

    I avoided hitting a couple more that darted out in the last day or two. It is hard to do. You have to step on the brake. : )

  • competition

    …..another factor I forgot to mention is there has to be serious competition amongst rivals since the population exploded but not followed by or coinciding with another bumper crop of acorns needed to support the newbie squirrels which leaves them scurrying about to hide and stash what they can and very distracted in doing so while crossing roadways. Or they can go to local bird feeders and load up or those who feed them with loaves of bread and peanuts they eat and litter on my deck, what the heck!

    • kids!

      “Our” squirrel has to compete with her own child. They don’t get along well when it comes to sharing. The child is 6 months old now, after all. : )

  • weaning time is a sad reality

    …but tough love comes to mind for ultimate survival

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