FALMOUTH – Maine Audubon seeks volunteers to survey roads in western Maine for signs of wildlife road crossings. Information collected by volunteers about where, when and how many animals cross our roads is the critical first step in identifying ways to reduce wildlife road mortality.
Since the inception of Maine Audubon’s Wildlife Road Watch program in 2010, over 460 volunteers have reported over 3,600 wildlife observations, including reports of rare and endangered species. Last year, 16 volunteers surveyed routes throughout Franklin, Oxford and Somerset counties.
Maine Audubon is looking for volunteers to survey sections of Routes 4, 16, 27 and 201.
“This area of Maine has been identified as important habitat for large-scale wildlife movement in New England. We know that species movement in this area is impacted by roads and traffic,” said Doug Hitchcox, Maine Audubon staff naturalist. “The goal of this program is to identify areas of concentrated movement and figure out what can be done to improve the conditions for Maine wildlife and Maine drivers. We can’t do it without our team of trained citizen scientists.”
Roads can have a big impact on wildlife by impeding movement and separating populations, as well as killing individuals from collisions. Biologists with Maine Audubon and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife will use the information gathered by volunteers to work with town planners and the Maine Department of Transportation to reduce road risks to rare wildlife and improve conditions for drivers.
“Maine has a unique mix of wildlife and well-traveled roads,” noted Hitchcox. “We find that people are genuinely interested in taking care of our wildlife.” Volunteers are asked to survey a designated section of road – by car or by foot – while recording any evidence of wildlife crossing.
“It’s a minimal time commitment and a great opportunity for families to learn about wildlife together. It helps to get families outside on a regular basis in the summer months,” he said.