Please note, this blog post contains imagery that readers may find disturbing, depicting a hare killed by collision with a car.
My research explores the animal conservation and welfare dilemma of animals killed on our roads.
It was an honour to be short listed in the Images of Research competition 2019/20, particularly as the standard of photographs and the importance and value of the various research projects was very high. Since then I have received several enquiries from conservation agencies and members of the public regarding what interventions might help to reduce wildlife roadkill, showing the powerful reach of the MMU Images of Research competition.
The following was my competition entry, the abstract followed by the image itself:
Between Manchester and Sheffield reside small declining populations of mountain hares and brown hares. Society reveres these animals for their value to ecosystems, their beauty and cultural heritage. Yet annually more than 200 hares are killed by motorists upon the local road networks. On a two mile stretch of the A57 Snake Pass alone, more than 100 mountain hares die.
My research statistically models these hare populations. Findings show the roads kill more than 10% of the mountain and brown hares every year. The persistence of these populations is threatened. Meanwhile people consider roadkill an unfortunate and acceptable consequence of travel. Drivers causing accidents and death are, of course, forgiven. Government highways departments have limited definitions of what constitutes “acceptable” levels of roadkill. Mitigation strategies are quietly avoided.
Embarrassed, society tries not to notice the animal conservation and welfare dilemma. People look away from the horror. Will you?
Carlos Bedson is a wildlife researcher who combines natural history evidence, geographic data and statistics models to help explain animal population ecology for monitoring and management. He was a finalist in the 2020 Images of Research competition. The 2021 competition will launch soon. Check out the celebratory brochure and website here: https://www.mmu.ac.uk/research/research-study/events/images/