Recent Utah State University wildlife biology graduate and Quinney Fellow, Daniel D. Olson, led development for an app that allows users to record incidents of wildlife-automobile collisions. The application antiquates the paper and pen method, cutting down recording time by half while decreasing error from over 2,500 feet to 15 feet.
Users choose the species of roadkill from a simple drop-down menu (or use the allotted space to add their own) and record details like sex and age. More advanced features allow qualified users to add fat measurement and tag numbers if applicable. If no internet connection is immediately available, the application will hold the data until it is able to connect.
The records are compiled by biologists like Olson to identify migration and movement patterns across highways. This information allows researchers to plan the placement of exclusionary fences and wildlife crossings at the best possible locations to minimize human and wildlife injuries and deaths.
Development of the $34,000 App was funded primarily through the Utah Department of Transportation. “We wanted to call it the Roadkill Reporter, but since we were working with the [Utah] Department of Transportation, we thought Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reporter would be a more tactful way to put it,” said Olson, who worked with USU colleagues, the Utah Department of Transportation, the State of Utah’s Automated Geographic Reference Center and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The cost is relatively low. For comparison, the prevention of four deer collisions or only one moose collision would be enough for the app to be cost effective.
Olson, whose paper was published June 4th, hopes that the application will catch on in other states. A few organizations have attempted to create similar apps in the past without success. The Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reporter could revolutionize the speed and accuracy with which scientists respond to wildlife crossing issues, enabling them to create a safer environment for all species.
The developers are hoping to add new features in the future such as photo abilities and push notifications.