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Roadkill are us

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
April 2, 1998

 

It was the first spring morning of the year, the sky was clear, the birds were talking about something very important, and I was on my way to the beach. Life was good. The evening before I had participated in equinox ritual with family and friends complete with dining and drumming. Having celebrated the rebirth of spring, I was looking forward to my morning of beach cleaning. Part of this Saturday ritual is the walk west. Leucadia was alive with the sounds of life, even the rumble of Interstate-5 was being drowned out by a chorus of birds. I was sure nothing would spoil this beautiful morning. Then I came upon the dead opossum.

Boom! I was slammed right back into my "mankind is evil" tirade. I bet you are wondering how I can equate a single roadkill with evil. Well let me explain. I consider myself to be biocentric, that is I consider every living thing to be of equal importance in regards to the balance of life here on earth. In my eyes opossums are not expendable and should not be left for dead on the side of the road. If a human were to be crushed beneath a speeding car, traffic would stop, the body would be removed from the road, and an investigation would be conducted. More often than not the person responsible would be brought to trial. Whole communities would cry that something must be done. However absolutely nothing is said when thousands of animals are killed weekly here in coastal North County.

How do I know that thousands of animals are killed each week? I don't. Not long ago I called Cal-trans to get the numbers of roadkill. An incredulous person at the other end of the line was surprised by the question, and said they did not keep such statistics. I then asked if in they had a log book which documented when Cal-trans employees were called to remove animals from the road. Again she said they did not keep track of such things. This seems to be policy across the board. Truth be told, it does not surprise me that people do not want to face the death and destruction of animals by the automobile.

You have heard me talk of my cat Tofu being eaten by a coyote, now let me tell you about the fate of Ursula. Ursula, a beautiful tortoise shell turned up missing one day, we figured she had run off with her brother Fatty. Two weeks later Ursula dragged herself home having had her entire back end crushed beneath the wheels or some car. Did the driver even know they had runover someone's companion animal? Probably not. They were probably in a hurry to get to some terribly important appointment such as a pedicure or Happy Hour with friends. I remember seeing a cat being hit by a car, when I got to it, I could see the realization of what had happened to him in his one remaining eye. Traffic just kept moving. Isn't it funny, if there is an accident involving people, traffic slows to a crawl because other drivers feel compelled to hover like vultures, yet they can't be bothered by the skunk they just ground into paste.

It's spring folks, and that means babies of all kinds, some of which that don't understand what that huge piece of metal hurtling towards them actually is. We must be extra careful of how fast we drive, and not expect animals to get out of the way in time. If by chance you accidently hit an animal, or person, please have enough dignity to stop to see if you can help. If the animal is dead please be humane and drag it to the bushes on the side of the road. Other animals will then process the body without becoming roadkill themselves while trying to feed. I can not think of a more undignified death than to be continuously ran over and then left to dry on the pavement, can you? If by chance the animal is still alive, Project Wildlife is just a phone call away. Protecting wildlife is our responsibility, because we have created the dangerous environment in which they live. Sorry folks, but raccoons did not ask for the freeway that separates them from the Buena Vista Lagoon. Isn't odd that it is illegal to beat a dog but not to run one over. Now I know accidents happen, however it is my opinion that they happen way too often. It is time we began to seriously reflect on our total disregard for the animals that share our communities, because like it or not, we are all in this together.

 
 
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