Nature

WANTED: Your wildlife spottings – dead or alive

By Kitty Knowles 11 July 2017
Summary

Gorgeous or gory, conservationists want you to use this app.

Spot something flat and furry at the side of the road? Most would avert their eyes.

Today however, British conservationists are calling on you to get over it. Because your sightings of mammals matter.

That applies whether they’re dead or alive.

Mammals on Roads

Wildlife charity, the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), organises its ‘Mammals on Roads’ survey between July and September each year.

Now a new app means if you see a hedgehog, squirrel, fox, badger, rabbit or deer, you can easily share your sighting as an invaluable new source of data.

PTES recommend using the app on car journeys of 20 miles or more – to help identify changes in population numbers and help conservation across Britain. (Just don’t use the app while you’re driving, obviously).

“Data gathered from Mammals on Roads is vital to conservation work,” David Wembridge, Surveys Officer at PTES explains.

“The survey allows us to compare data year on year, and identify where we need to focus our conservation efforts.”

The perfect family car activity?

Now while the sight of a family of bunnies is bound to be a crowdpleaser, we appreciate that a dead deer might have a more macabre effect.

But contrary to what you might think, spotting something gory could actually mean something positive is happening within the local environment.

“While recording roadkill can be a little gruesome, higher levels of roadkill can actually indicate a healthy population of mammals nearby,” Wembridge explains.

Big impact

Since 2001, PTES has surveyed over half a million kilometres of Britain’s roads – and the data collected is already helping to save endangered wildlife.

Citizen scientists like you, for example, previously helped PTES spot the dramatic fall in native hedgehog numbers: this prompted the nationwide Hedgehog Street campaign in 2011, which now has 44,000 ‘Hedgehog Champions’ helping support the species.

“Putting together apps and wildlife might seem counterintuitive at first,” said Jamie Lemon, whose tech company, dijipiji, build the new Mammals on Roads app.

“But real-time mapping and big data analysis – are powerful conservation tools.”

“New technology enables us to help monitor and protect our natural environment: with the right app, we can all play a critical role in conservation.”

Got a road trip planned? It’s time to play your part – however glorious or grim.

Download the free Mammals on Roads app from the App Store or Google Play