DeAnn Owens
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COVID-19 Reduces Amount of Roadkill in Three States

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Mountain Lion
Photo: Joseph Blowers

Shelter-in-place orders across the country are definitely changing the way we live, interact, and move around the world. Our limited mobility, though, has proven beneficial for some. Wildlife appears to be thriving at least in three states. A new study from researchers at the University of California, Davis, reveals a significant reduction in auto-related wildlife fatalities (roadkill) in Maine, California, and Idaho.

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Taking data from early March to the middle of April, researchers measured the decrease in roadkill in these specific states at 21 to 56 percent.

“This respite, if it continued, could amount to about 5,700 to 13,000 fewer large mammals killed each year in those states alone, and 50 fewer mountain lion deaths per year in California,” reports Kat Kerlin for UC Davis.

Study author Fraser Shilling, Director of the UC Davis Road Ecology Center, which published the research, said this decline is highly unusual for these states, which typically post an increase in roadkill during the spring months.


Since roads in Maine were less crowded during the study period, a decrease of 73 percent, large wild animals saw fewer losses, reports Kerlin.

“Before shelter-in-place directives, 15.2 large wild animals were killed daily on Maine roads. After the order, the number was reduced by nearly half, to 8.4 animals,” adds Kerlin.


California trailed Maine with a 71 percent reduction in traffic thanks to shelter-in-place orders. This decreased traffic helped safeguard the lives of mountain lions throughout the Golden State.


Idaho reduced traffic on all roads by 63 percent, accounting for only 5.4 large animal deaths each day compared to the 8.7 daily deaths recorded before stay-at-home directives.

With stay-at-home orders lifting in these states allowing more drivers back on the road, the rates of roadkill will most likely increase.

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No matter where you’re driving, though, always stay focused on the drive and alert to potential dangers.