DWR’s ‘Roadkill Reporter’ app improves road safety using migration patterns
Dec 20, 2023, 7:04 PM | Updated: 7:28 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — Roadkill is common here in Utah, and the Division of Wildlife Resources says that thanks to its Utah Roadkill Reporter smartphone app it knows a lot more about where it happens most.
That’s important, because DWR can use that information to find roadkill hotspots — areas that see a lot of animal traffic.
DWR’s goal is of course to make roads safer, and it is partnering with the Utah Department of Transportation to improve responses to road hazards.
Since the app was released last December, close to 4,000 animal collisions have been reported. The vast majority of those have involved deer. But biologists are also being surprised by some of the other animals that are coming in, like the American badger and bobcat.
Faith Heaton Jolley, spokesperson for the DWR, explained how reports of thousands of animals struck are now helping create a clearer picture thanks to an app that was introduced to help clear roadkill faster.
“The more reports that we can get,” Jolley said, “the more data we can collect.”
“It also helps us to kind of learn where they’re migrating, pretty frequently across roadways,” Jolley said. “And that helps us because then we can take that information and we can partner with UDOT and potentially build some kind of crossings.”
“There are some other animals that we just haven’t really had a lot of data on previously,” Jolley said. “As far as how many are being hit and where they’re crossing roadways, some of their migration patterns. So a lot of this information is going to be really helpful for our biologists.”
The app can easily use your phone’s GPS to find your location. Of course, always report safely — not while driving.
It’s not the most pleasant thought, but the animal you accidentally kill today could help save the lives of others in the future.
“So if we’re seeing a lot of wildlife collisions in one specific area over any other area,” Jolley said, “that kind of helps us decide where to put our funding first for some of these projects — that would be kind of the most benefit, most bang for our buck in some of these cases.”
That kind of information is already being used to help write up grants to fund projects like crossings.
Inside the app you can easily tell the DWR where you are, what kind of animal you hit — even take a picture so it can more easily find the scene and pick it up.
The DWR and UDOT are encouraging people to keep reporting these accidents, not only to make our roads safer, but to clear a path in areas that wildlife frequent in the coming years.