Photo credit Ryan M. Bolton
The highway from Port Rowan to Long Point, Ontario connects two wetlands, and researcher Paul Ashley of the Canadian Wildlife Service and Scott Petrie of Long Point Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Fund were suspicious about the amount of roadkill. They wondered if it was random or if drivers were actually aiming for them.
According to the Windsor Star, they alternated between placing a plastic turtle, a rubber snake, a white cup and a grease control line on the centre of the road. The grease line helped researchers know how many drivers passed over the centre line by mistake. They hid in the bushes and watched 1900 cars, and found that 2.7% of drivers swerved onto the centre line specifically to run over the reptiles.
The fake snake fared the worst. Drivers were 2.4 times more likely to hit the snake than the control and 1.9 times more likely to hit the snake than the cup. For the turtle, drivers were 1.7 times more likely to hit it than the control and 1.4 times more likely to hit the turtle than the cup.
Men were more likely than female drivers to hit any of the objects on the road. "Probably testosterone, I don't know," said Petrie.
It doesn't sound like much, but Petrie says "Two point seven per cent of the people out there is a lot and especially when those 2.7 per cent of people probably do it often or whenever they get the chance."
Drivers may run over wildlife for kicks and others may think they're doing everyone a favour by killing a snake since they aren't well liked, he said. But reptile roadkills are a problem because reptiles are declining, and turtles, unlike raccoons, take longer to become sexually mature, meaning they're killed on the road before they can reproduce.
"There's lots of rare and endangered reptile species in the province, so you never know what you're running over and you shouldn't run over anything." ::Driving.ca