When I decided we wanted to make a definitive map of each state's most common roadkill, I neglected one very important point: nobody really knows what each state's most common roadkill is. Shockingly, there's no Department Of Flattened Fauna, so I did some research and here's what I found out.
Just to drive home the point that our great nation is trapped under a thick, foul-smelling cloak of roadkill ignorance, here's the response I got from Bill Ostrum, who works for the U.S. Department of Transportation:
Unfortunately, there isn't a good single source of information on roadkill by state. Each state tracks this data in its own way, and many insurance companies collect their own information, but there is not a centralized clearinghouse for this data. Thank you.
Well, you're welcome, Bill, but that doesn't help at all. This is one of those things I think everyone just assumes we keep track of. For example, look at this Facebook post from a tire-selling company:
See? They just assumed they'd be able to easily find the answer for their little contest, and when it came time for their social media intern to Google it, they had to come up with this diversionary ridiculous non-answer to distract everyone. Just like I had to do, several times, in this chart.
After a lot of digging, I was able to get a pretty good guess for most state's primary roadkill. For every state, I combed through a combination of independent studies, academic papers, animal control department documents, and just plain old every person reports to try and come up with an answer.
To reflect how confident I felt about the data, I've included a percentage for each state. Some I'm pretty comfortable with, but there's still plenty where I, um, guessed. So use that confidence number when planning your roadkill tours.
Nationwide, the biggest ones seem to be armadillo and deer, though I suspect the deer numbers may be inflated because they're far more likely to be reported than, say, a chipmunk. Because a chipmunk won't do $3000 of damage to your car, unless it gets sucked into the fresh air vents, gets mulched by the fan, and the chipmunk purée coats your interior.
So, here it is: what may be, as far as I know, the most comprehensive roadkill map of America yet produced. And, once you study it, I think you'll agree that's kind of sad.
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