Citizens can help SFA scientists in Roadkill of Texas Project - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Citizens can help SFA scientists in Roadkill of Texas Project

Connor Adams, (left) and Dr. Christoper Schalk (r) head toward a roadkill to document it on iNaturalist.org. (Source: KTRE Staff) Connor Adams, (left) and Dr. Christoper Schalk (r) head toward a roadkill to document it on iNaturalist.org. (Source: KTRE Staff)
iNaturalist.org accepts educational projects where citizen scientists can participate. SFA is inviting Texans to a project out of the Forestry Department. (Source: KTRE Staff) iNaturalist.org accepts educational projects where citizen scientists can participate. SFA is inviting Texans to a project out of the Forestry Department. (Source: KTRE Staff)
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -

Every motorist drives by a roadkill. There's often a tendency to look the other way or just keep on going.

There is a reason to safely stop, take a picture, and place the image on the iNaturalist website.

We warn you. A story about roadkill requires pictures of such.

A road trip for roadkill turned out to be not as easy as you might think.

The Stephen F. Austin State University Forestry Department is literally on a scavenger hunt for science. Dr. Christopher Schalk, an assistant professor of wildlife management, placed his Roadkills of Texas project on the educational website inaturalist.org. Citizen scientists can help answer ...  

"Do we see differences in roadkill rates on different kinds of roads, with different traffic densities?” Schalk said. “Do we see under certain habitat conditions or certain times of year that certain species more vulnerable to being hit by cars or not?”

Connor Adams, a graduate student, was the eagle eye on the latest trip, most of the time.

"It looked like it might have been a dead animal, but it could have been trash,” Adams said.

"Uhhh. There was a milk bottle,” Schalk replied.

Eventually, their prey was spotted. 

“It’s something. Old.” Adams said.

“Looks like a possum,” Schalk said.

These scientists won't be skunked. They found a very dead, flat striped skunk. 

"It's a little ripe,” Schalk said.

Nevertheless, Adams snapped a picture of the carcass.

"There's a GPS latitude and longitude recorded each time you take a picture,” Schalk said. “And also a time and date stamp.  When multiple people have multiple eyes on the road we can really start looking for patterns."

Back at Schalk's office, he opened up the iNaturalist site to see how many citizen scientists are contributing to the study.

"Right now, for example, we have over 2,300 observations of roadkills in Texas and we just started this project in January,” Schalk said.

Uploaded images of 167 species are on the site this week. Species will vary according to region. One otter was found near Upshur County near Tyler by an East Texas News reporter. Another came upon a small bird killed on a Nacogdoches city street.

"I’m trying to get as many people as I can into it, which is going to help the science because of more data points and also bring more people into understanding the nature around them,” Adams said.

The findings could lead to safer roads, warning signs for motorists, or places for animal diversions, so fewer of them end up as roadkill. 

For more information on how you can get involved in the project, click this link. In addition to "Roadkills of Texas," the website shares a number of other educational wildlife projects.

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