Adopt a Road Route Instructions

Step 4. Survey Your “Adopt A Road” Section. After all the work to set up the route, this is where the fun begins! You should plan to drive/walk/bike your entire route and record all the wildlife crossings you see, live animals that make it across the road, and for those that don’t, evidence left behind in the form of roadkill.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Everytime you survey your "Adopt A Road" route, you must enter that survey date (Click on "Add a Route Survey") into the website, whether or not you saw any wildlife. This is very important for the project data analysis.

Equipment: Although you can do a survey with only a datasheet and writing utensil, we recommend the following equipment:

  • Reflective/Safety Vest (especially if walking the route or exiting your vehicle); in the absence of a safety vest, wear bright, visible clothing
  • Digital Camera (to document roadkill/crossing evidence) – this is strongly encouraged
  • GPS Unit or Smartphone/iphone (to capture latitude and longitude of observations)
  • Compass – to determine direction animal is/was heading
  • Cell phone (in case of emergency)
  • Copy of “Adopt A Road” route map (for marking locations of observations)
  • Flashlight/headlamp – if surveying at night

Safety: Volunteer safety is critical! You should not stop on interstates or on busy roads and highways where stopping and/or exiting the car is dangerous. Cars should pull completely out of the travel lanes so that other cars can get by in the travel lane. Cars should not be parked where they will have difficulty pulling back onto the road (like around sharp turns or blind corners). This survey should not cause an accident!

Walkers and bikers should be choosing routes where they can safely navigate the shoulder. We encourage volunteers to stop and observe roadkill up close, but only when it is safe to do so. Volunteers should wear a safety/reflective vest if they are walking/biking or if they plan to get out of a vehicle, and helmets are an absolute must for bikers. Volunteers should be working in pairs, especially in vehicles, so that data recording can be done by the passenger and the driver can focus on navigation.

***Frogs and turtles often move across roads in the spring time. For critters clearly moving across roads, volunteers can help by picking them up and moving them in the direction of travel. Wear gloves and be aware of traffic movement.***

Frequency: You should survey your “Adopt A Road” route for wildlife crossings at least six times, once a month starting in April and continuing through September. (If you have not adopted a road yet, it is not too late. Roads can be adopted and surveyed anytime of year.) More frequent surveys within each month, or earlier/later in the season are greatly appreciated. IMPORTANT: Please note that even surveys where you see no evidence of wildlife crossings are important and should be submitted on the project website.

Timing: There is no required time of day for surveys. Daytime is safer and easier to see roadkilled animals. Night time is best for observations of many live animals, especially amphibians, because that is when they are most active. However, it is also harder to see them and may require more attention to other cars as well.

Speed: Please drive your route slowly (within the legal speed limits) and safely while doing the survey. Pull over to let other drivers pass if you notice a back up behind you. When safe to do so, a maximum speed of 25 mph will allow you to spot most roadkilled animals.

Wildlife Identification: Ideally, you will be able to identify the species of wildlife you see, but in many cases you may only be able to provide more general identification (e.g., bird, raptor, snake, turtle, rodent, frog, large mammal, small mammal, etc.) Be as specific as you can be, and if needed, take notes for further research at home with field guides or on-line resources. For each identification, please indicate your level of confidence (Confident, Somewhat Confident, or Best Guess).

Photos: We strongly recommend taking a photo. It is helpful to have a photo of the roadkill in context (surrounding landscape, fences, barriers, etc) as well as a close-up to help confirm species identification. Putting a coin or ruler in the photo for scale can be helpful. Photos can be uploaded to the website during data entry. Once the picture is taken, volunteers may move the carcass off the roadway or shoulder if they have the proper equipment (including disposable gloves and disinfectant for shovels or other tools). It is fine to leave roadkill as it is.

Datasheet and Map: All data should be recorded onto a datasheet, with locations of each observation marked on a map (photocopies from an atlas or on-line map will work). The datasheet closely follows the web-based forms for entering data on-line. Data should be filled in for each observation along your route. Remember, recording surveys with no observations is extremely important, and a record of that survey ("Add a Route Survey" under the Adopt A Road Menu) must be created and entered online. At the end of the survey, be sure to review the datasheet for completeness, especially the time the survey ended. Download datasheet here.