Monday, 11 May 2015


There are nine dead cock pheasants on our lane this morning, all killed by cars (except one which the farmer thinks was probably killed in a fight).   The trouble is that this time of the year cock pheasants are very territorial - one is 'in charge' of our garden and the area under the trees by the side of our house.   He calls constantly for his 'girls' and they come running.  Any intruder is fought off savagely and while these fights are happening both contestants are totally oblivious to anything going on around them.   The fights can go on for hours if neither gives way.

Casualties - either in the fields after fights or on the roads after car deaths - are usually collected up by crows, or by buzzards or even by rooks and jackdaws.   They soon disappear and are a valuable food source for other wildlife - foxes are round at night, and badgers.  There is always something on the lookout for dead food around.   This is probably the reason why so few dead birds are seen in the fields .

Rabbits, of course, are killed on the lane in their dozens.  Several folk go round shooting them at evening and there are the organised shoots.   Anyone who thinks this should be banned needs to remember that from the farmer's point of view  ten rabbits eat as much valuable grass as one cow.  Often folk who shoot or use ferrets to kill rabbits, remove the dead ones and take them up on to the moor, where they are valuable food for the buzzards (we have quite a lot round here) who prefer their food to be dead.

Apparently all this road kill provides some food too.  People who run over deer (it happened recently further down our lane, where our neighbour did £4000 worth of damage to his car when he hit a deer) sometimes take the deer home, have it butchered and put it in the freeze r.   And in some parts of America road kill which is suitable for human consumption has become known as 'highway pizza'.   A new cookery book called 'A Feast before your very tires' has been published, which tells its readers how to skin a duck and de-bone an elk!

Over here in the UK there is becoming a movement for eating fox cub fricassee, badger or hedgehog casserole - can't say I fancy it myself.   You may be interested to see the results of a National Road Death Survey, which was carried out by the Mammal Society in 2000-2001.   I don't know how it can have achieved any kind of accuracy, but it should be a guide and it makes astonishing reading:

Suggested Annual Toll of Road Deaths. 2000-2001

100,000 foxes
100,000 hedgehogs
50,000 badgers
30-50,000 deer
Plus quite a large number of birds of prey - mostly
kestrel, tawny owl and barn owl.


Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Okay, so I'll have toast with my coffee this morning.:)

Maureen @ Josephina Ballerina said...

Hi Pat,
This is from an article in Dec. 2011 Car & Driver magazine:

"Here in Maryland, if you want to take home a deer you killed with your vehicle, you first must obtain a proper tag and have that filled out before moving the animal.

Many police officers carry these tags in their cruisers and if you call the Maryland Catch-A-Poacher hotline, they can also dispatch a game warden to your position with the appropriate paperwork.

Should you be out in western Maryland and hit and kill a bear, you may not take that bruin home with you. Wildlife officials will come and get it and they keep it. More than 50 bears were killed by vehicles in Maryland last year.

If you live in Alaska, you can’t have any roadkill. It belongs to the state and is sometimes butchered by volunteers and then distributed to charities.

In Florida, you can have any game animal you hit and kill, but in Illinois, only state residents who are not delinquent in their child support payments and have not had their wildlife privileges suspended may partake in the asphalt smorgasbord."

Here you see a lot of squirrel and deer and the occasional fox on the road. Other animals only occasionally. I'm guessing the whole game warden tagging thing doesn't really apply to squirrels. ;)

Thanks for the compliment on the new header.

:) m & jb

MorningAJ said...

Of course you aren't supposed to take home anything you hit yourself, but you CAN take home anything hit by the car in front. Except badger. Because an offence is committed by: "anyone who has in his possession or under his control any dead badger or any part of a dead badger" under the Protection of Badgers Act of 1992. (Unless you have a special licence and are taking part in legalised slaughter for the purposes of 'preventing' the spread of bovine TB. Soapbox time again. I'll climb down now.....)

A Heron's View said...

I think that most of the road kills are down to careless drivers or couldn't care less drivers who are driving to fast because am certain that most of the kills could be avoided.

Mac n' Janet said...

I'm not sure I'd care for road kill, but we have a wake (had to google that word) of buzzards who seem to take care of most of our roadside offerings.

Cranberry Morning said...

Mmmm. Interesting post. It reminds me of a hilarious Doc Martin episode. :-)

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't eat roadkill and it seems in such a big country as ours that the ratio of those who would to those who wouldn't is probably quite small. Ick!!!

Joanne Noragon said...

In my state, or at least in my part of it, if a road kill deer is reported soon enough it is properly butchered and the meat goes to the Food Bank. Where I live a lot of deer run into cars (at the car owner's expense!) and help alleviate the never ending battle against hunger.

donna baker said...

This is fascinating because I see a lot of road kill and wondered if it happened in Europe too. Seems it does. I would have thought they would have invented something to chase the critters away from roads.

Frances said...

Once again, I have learned much from your posts. This one and its predecessor have shown me more about the countryside, then and now.

I'll remember the info about ten rabbits v. one cow forever.

Your musing about the role of plastic bags was also very wise. I work in the presence of some of the millenial generation who cannot conceive of life before Iphones.


Rachel Phillips said...

Nobody wants to hit an animal in the road, contrary to what Heron says. Who wants a headlight out, a bent grill, or worse? Nobody. The list you give of dead animals doesn't particularly bother me, none of them are endangered species but I am blowed if I would hit any of them deliberately. But unless you want to creep along at 20mph it is not always possible to miss them.

Terry and Linda said...

I don't think I could eat it...the damage inside the animal would be huge and foul the meat.


John Going Gently said...

I worry about the hedgehogs
They seem to be an endangered soecials nowadays

angryparsnip said...

Loved Maureens comment !

Rachel, I agree with Heron. There are many deranged people who don't care and drive way to fast.
I live in a wilderness area of homes and lots of wildlife all around. We have a 20 MPH speed limit where I live and I swear every one of the "younger" people zoom up and down the roads. Checking the phone or texting and speeding. Right now is quail season, lots of Mums with lots of tiny babies running across the road.
We see quail, ground feeding birds, snakes, squirrels dead on the road.
But then, we have the ones who drive their cars directly into the small family groups of javelinas with their tiny babies on purpose. along with coyotes. In one town they dragged the javelina behind the car on New Years Eve.
Sometimes you can't miss the small ones but if your driving 20 MPH you really can.
The deer around here get killed around 2 am when all the drunks try to drive home. It is so sad.

awww all the little hedgehogs that get killed, that is so sad. I think they are so sweet.

cheers, parsnip

Heather said...

I suppose those statistics are not surprising considering the speed at which some motorists tear about on country roads. They seem to assume that no-one or nothing else will be there. Sadly I have never seen a live badger - only dead ones at the side of the road. I'm not sure I would fancy eating road kill, but happy that it provides food for other species.

The Weaver of Grass said...

We have built up quite a fund of information between us here haven't we? Thanks for your contribution.

Rachel Phillips said...

Deer jump out of the hedges here unseen into the paths of vehicles, drunk or not you cannot see them coming. We call it natural wastage.

A Heron's View said...

Just saw this Pat to prove that some folk do care.
Froglife, which helps the conservation of amphibians and reptiles, has mapped 700 crossings using satellite technology.
It is hoped the satellite map will help conservationists and volunteers find out more about where amphibians are killed on roads on their migration to breeding ponds in spring.

The new software will help members of the public find out where frogs and toads cross local roads, as well as whether a "crossing" is active.
They will also be able to use it to find out where they can help with volunteer "toad patrols", as well as updating Froglife's records and reporting new toad crossings.
Conservationists at Froglife also hope the Froglife Google Earth application will be useful for the planning sector, and will allow highways officials to find out more about amphibian populations around the UK's roads.

Gwil W said...

There was some publicity about a long distance walker a couple of years ago, in Germany I think, who ate nothing but animals he found dead on the roads during his long walks. Presumably they were reasonably fresh and he cooked them for a long time.

Cro Magnon said...

My carpenter hit a Roe Deer about a week ago. It caused about £200 of damage, and his wife wouldn't even let him take it home. I would have insisted!

Jennifer said...

Deer practically throw themselves in the path of vehicles here even in town. And dead opossums are a really common sight. The only roadkill animals that make me sad are the rare ones...occasionally I see a beaver or a fox or a large turtles in the spring.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks to you all for calling in.

thelma said...

I'm glad I'm mostly vegetarian! Long journeys always have the sad sight of road kill, badgers and foxes mostly, the carrion crow do well on motorways.