Roadkill apparent on Ingham County roadsides

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Rough road ahead sign for drivers warning. Photo by- Audrey Porter

Streets in Ingham County are seeing plentiful amounts of roadkill throughout. Some residents are tired of having to deal with the lifeless animals.

Downtown Lansing. Photo by Jacob Vogel.

“One, I don’t like it, because if I’m walking down any of those streets, using the park facility or whatever, you can smell the dead animals and I have a weak stomach,” said Ingham County resident Quantez Bell.

Bell has noticed a high volume of road kill and has himself almost run into deer, possums, and raccoons. He mentioned that one of the highly affected areas he has noticed is by the library in Okemos, and all along Okemos Road.

Several years back, the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office launched a program known as the Dead Animal Recovery Team. D.A.R.T. was responsible for responding to roadkill reports by cleaning up the dead animals off the streets. The team consisted of volunteer deputies.

That program had to be shut down not long ago. Captain Greg Harris of the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office said that the program had to be shut down because of funding issues. The budget could no longer provide the team with the effective necessities to keep going.

“Early last year we were faced with more [budget cuts] and because of that the program went wayside,” said Harris.

Without the D.A.R.T. program in operation, residents are now a part of the community’s responsibility in keeping the dead animals off the roads. Harris believes that since D.A.R.T. is no longer running, that no one has been placed with that responsibility, and that residents are taking matters into their own hands.

While some may feel uncomfortable removing the dead animal off the streets completely, it is the safe thing to do to move the carcass to the side of the street.

“If there’s an impact on local traffic and safety on the road, that would be a traffic hazard, which the animal carcass would have to be moved out of the roadway,” said Harris.” But what that means is that that animal is just dragged to the side of the road.”

A resident and employee for Ingham County of five years now, Quanis Hopkins believes Ingham County’s road kill isn’t as bad as other places.

“I want to say I don’t see it everyday, but it is uncomfortable when you do see it,” said Hopkins. “In general I don’t think it is that bad out here.”

Hopkins is originally from Ypsilanti, an area where he has seen more road kill with less maintenance. He believes that it is hard to place blame on the animal or the driver, but if anything, people need to be more aware if the issue is going to be alleviated.

“Animals don’t have a real understanding of what’s going on,” said Hopkins. “They don’t have something telling them to stop.”

Several signs that read “Speed Kills” have been placed around Ingham County. Amongst not speeding, there certain safety precautions drivers should take while on the road in general, and specifically when approaching a crossing animal. One of the safer things to do according to Bell and Harris, is to make sure not to swerve the vehicle.

“Most cases you are safer to remain on the roadway, even if that means you are involved with a collision with the animal, versus swerving and going off the roadway, because then you are almost certain to have a collision with a stationary object,” said Harris.

If a collision were to occur, for Bell, there is somewhat of a moral responsibility for respecting that animal’s life.

“Think of it if it was your dog, would you just leave your dog on the side of the road,” said Bell. “If it can feel pain and everything else at least treat it with respect.”

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