National Roadkill Day takes place every year on September 25. Although you may assume that National Roadkill Day is about raising awareness about the dangers of roadkill or how it’s an issue that so many animals die on the roads, this would be the wrong assumption. National Roadkill Day is actually about raising awareness about roadkill as an immediate and no-waste alternative to help feed many hungry Americans.
History of National Roadkill Day
Roadkill refers to wildlife being hit or killed by moving cars since the invention of automobiles in the early 1900s. When the data surrounding roadkill started to mount up and became a safety and ecological concern, Joseph Grinnell, a naturalist, began to look into the issue. He estimated that in California alone, the number of animals being hit by vehicles was somewhere in the hundreds or even thousands every day. That was a century ago, but the numbers have only increased in more recent times.
According to State Farms, there were 2.1 million insurance claims concerning animal collision incidents in the U.S. between June 2020 and July 2021. Pennsylvania was reported to have had the most cases of animal collisions climbing to 166,404 for just that year. It was estimated in 1920 that animal collision incidents in one state averaged around 12,000 incidents in a year, according to studies. California went from around 12,000 collisions to 104,767 incidents between 2020 and 2021 — an increase of 92,767 incidents.
The reason why roadkill incidents have jumped so high is due to several factors. First, the human population has rapidly expanded its numbers alongside the size of towns and cities — we have forced animals to live in man-made environments despite its dangers to all creatures involved. Second, people’s driving has become significantly faster and more distracted. Normal highway speeds already pose a fatal risk when it comes to collisions due to being distracted, but many people still drive at a high speed. An estimate of around 1.6 million crashes in the U.S. are caused by drivers being distracted by their phones. When you add all of these factors together, it’s easy to see why roadkill has become as prevalent as it is in the U.S.
National Roadkill Day timeline
Americans start using automobiles and by 1915, there are roughly two million cars in regular use in the country.
Ecologists begin to collect roadkill carcasses to use for their research into animals and behavior.
A study concludes that insects are the animals that are at the highest risk when it comes to being roadkilled.
Dumas Gálvez, a scientist, embarks on a three-year trip to document roadkill on roads bordering rainforests in Panama.
The number of roadkill incidents decreases by 20% to 50% from state to state.
National Roadkill Day FAQs
Is roadkill safe to eat?
If the animal has died in the last few hours and the organs have not ruptured and tainted the meat, then the meat should be safe for consumption once thoroughly cooked.
What’s the most common type of roadkill?
An estimated 41 million squirrels end up as roadkill in a year.
What is the Roadkill Festival?
It’s a festival held in Marlinton, West Virginia where amateur cooks compete to win a cooking competition where they must use roadkill. It’s a popular annual tradition.
How to Observe National Roadkill Day
It might sound obvious, but be a little more mindful when you drive today! Slowing down and keeping a watchful eye on the road might just save your life and the life of some poor critter just trying to cross the road.
Think about it
Fresh roadkill, as odd as it may sound, is actually an excellent source of food. It’s a no-waste and more ethical option when compared to meat bought from supermarkets.
Join the barbeque
Again, this might be news, but roadkill is widely used as meat in cooking. There’s an annual barbeque competition called the Roadkill Festival where amateur cooks compete with roadkill as their main dish!
5 Facts About Roadkill That Will Blow Your Mind
An important research resource
Roadkill serves as a way for scientists to study the anatomy and biology of animals without killing them.
Animals like vultures, crows, and foxes thrive on roadkill as carrion is part of their natural diet, and in turn, their eating of roadkill prevents carcasses from staying on roads for long.
If roadkill is fresh enough and well-cooked, it is generally considered safe for consumption — this practice is currently legal in 49 states.
A culinary taboo
Despite roadkill being legal to eat in most of America, it is still looked down upon by most people.
Roadkill but make it cars
Confusingly, there is a popular show called ‘Roadkill’ and it’s about modified cars, not animals.
Why National Roadkill Day is Important
It brings up an important argument
Regardless of how you view the cooking and consumption of roadkill, the fact still stands that roadkill is sometimes all a family has to eat. In 2020, a study found that 35% of Americans experienced food insecurity. This means that 35% of Americans skip meals, go hungry, and struggle to afford food every month. Roadkill offers a zero-cost, zero-waste way for this percentage of the population to ensure there’s food in their freezer.
It raises awareness
National Roadkill Day raises awareness about the dangers our transport and driving habits pose to animals that share our roads and cities. Let’s all take part in some way or another.
There’s a culture
Say what you want about people who choose to use roadkill as a food source, but it’s undeniable that there’s a growing culture and community for those who have adopted roadkill cuisine. This day is the perfect time to explore that culture and share it with others!
National Roadkill Day dates