Dead Animals

Road StripeOur county road system provides a lot of benefits to the traveling public, but it also creates some hazards.  One of those hazards is when animals find their way into the roadway and are killed.  There are a lot of details to be considered when these things happen and our information here is to help communicate what we can do.
To begin with, Jackson County Roads manages the county-maintained roads within Jackson County.  These are different than city streets, state highways, and private roads/private property.  So, when an animal is killed on a roadway the first step is to determine who manages the road right-of-way at that location.  If it is us, then we want to manage these hazards just like we manage many other roadway hazards such as vegetation, litter, etc.  We also recognize there is a distinctive difference between someone’s pet versus the wild critter that just tried to cross the road, so the details below help take those difference into account as we explain our program.
Our first priority is safety and there is huge difference between a large animal blocking the travel lane versus a smaller animal that is not a hazard to vehicles.  With safety as a priority, we will quickly respond to road kill incidents where traveling motorists are being impacted.  An example would be traffic swerving around an animal, or if they were to run over the animal it would be likely to cause an accident or damage.  In all cases like this we want to know about them so we can address the hazard as quickly as possible, much like a larger tree limb landing in the roadway.  If it is after-hours, call 911 and report the emergency.

We also recognize some animals have an owner.  This can include dogs and cats as well as horses and cows.  And while we definitely are focused on the keeping the roadway safe for travel, we are also sensitive to owners who lose pets or livestock.  In cases where an owner can be identified, our plan is to handle the roadway hazard as needed and then attempt to contact the owner to follow up with their animal in the way they wish.  Whatever identifying information we find will be used such as tags or brands.  We will notify animal control of any licensed animal we find, as well as notify the brand inspector for large animals found.  If owners cannot be located then we will determine if disposal of the animal is needed and ensure it gets done if warranted.
Speaking about ‘warranted disposal’ it is important to make some distinctions on how this is approached.  The reality is that many animals die in our roadways each day and the vast majority of them are not even seen.  Others are seen, but are so small that no concerns are raised.  And others are so large that they can’t be missed.  Some road kill will be required to be disposed of due to the location and size of the animal, while others can be left in place along the side of the roadway.  Our goal is to make these determinations on a case by case basis with the public’s best interest in mind.  For some animals we will need to spend time and money to dispose of them, while for other animals we won’t need to.
We spoke earlier on how we will handle pets and livestock related to them having owners, which now brings us to animals that don’t have owners.  These are the deer, elk, skunks, raccoons, birds and more that we can find on our roadways.  As noted above, the disposal of these animals will be approached on a case by case basis considering factors such as location as well as the size of the animal.  If it is in the public’s best interest to move the animal from the roadway to the shoulder then that is what we will do.  Or, if it is in the public’s best interest to have the animal picked up and disposed of then that is what we will do.  Many animals pose no harm if left along the side of the roadway and in those cases, we will take the approach to leave them there to best manage the resources we have.
We’ve mentioned the words ‘case by case’ a couple of times above and that was purposeful.  These types of circumstances do not warrant a one size fits all approach.  The last thing we want to do is spend the resources entrusted to us in a way that does not help.
So just like when people call us about a tree limb falling down, we will ask some questions to help determine the best course of action and then take that action.  In some cases we will send a person to move the limb off the road and in other cases we will send a crew to dispose of a tree that fell over.  If you see a hazard caused by road kill (or any other reason) please contact us – we want to mitigate the hazard in the best way possible to keep our roads functioning well.