Matt Forney
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Roadkill Nation

My first experience, if you can call it that, with roadkill was when I was a little kid. I was with my family and we were driving back from my grandparents’ house when we hit a bump in the road. My mom, who was driving, said that we’d run over a chipmunk. Naturally, this upset my sisters and I, raised on Disney movies as we were. My mom just shot back, “If I’d swerved to avoid the chipmunk, we’d have crashed into that tree. It was us or him.”

Thus I learned a fundamental truth: human life is always worth more than animal life. Even if the animals are cute and cuddly.

Somehow, I doubt liberal environmentalists, the ones who agitate against hydrofracking and offshore oil drilling despite the fact that they’ve never lived more than five miles from a major city, never got the memo.

That incident happened back in the late 90’s, when roadkill was a rare sight on the highways. Even as late as ten years ago, animal carcasses were still uncommon. Nowadays, you can’t go a quarter mile on any length of trafficked road without seeing the remnants of a furry woodland creature splattered across the pavement. Squirrels, badgers, wild dogs, deer, armadillos — nothing is safe from the bone-crushing, organ-mutilating strength of the automobile. The other day, I saw a dead fox on Thompson Road near Carrier Circle, and a few minutes later got to watch a sparrow ricochet off my windshield going at 55 miles an hour.

If we Americans stopped all foreign aid and just gave over the carcasses of the animals we steamroller on a regular basis, we could probably feed the entire third world and then some.

What gives? Why’s the prevalence of roadkill going up? I’ve got a few theories.

1. Humans are expanding into rural areas and driving animals out of their natural habits.

This is probably the most likely, as suburbanization is way out of control. A big part of it is whites’ plain, simple desire to avoid getting dragged down by the Black Undertow. But it’s also consumerist idiocy. Even Ithaca, which has a black population of maybe two, has booming suburban developments in the nearby towns of Lansing, Dryden and Groton. In the nearby city of Cortland, which is whiter than snow, everyone with a bit of money is hauling ass to Cortlandville or Homer, increasing traffic to the point where new traffic lights are being installed on previously quiet country roads.

Americans are addicted to big. We love big cars; if you drive a compact, you know for a fact that ATMs, drive-through windows and mailboxes are high off the ground, designed for minivans and SUVs. We love big-screen TVs, we love stuffing our faces with junk food until we’re big, and we love living in huge McMansions with lots of big, empty rooms full of doodads that we never use.

We need everything big, because our lives are empty, unfulfilling and meaningless.

2. Environmental restrictions on hunting are too strict, leading to overpopulation of game animals.

This applies mostly to deer, who are every-fricking-where, stupid as the day is long, can kill you if you run into one, and love to wander out into the middle of traffic. Most of their natural predators, such as wolves, are declining in population or were actively driven to extinction (the state of New York even had a bounty put out on wolves at one point because they were such a danger to livestock).

As a result, they’re rutting like mad and swarming into our towns and villages.

Unless you live in a densely populated urban environment, it’s nearly impossible to not see deer out and about these days. Driving home from Ithaca the other day, I saw two dead deer on the highway; one outside of Cayuga Heights on Route 13, the hoity-toity town where all the Cornell professors live, and the other on I-81 south of Tully. That same weekend, I saw live deer on Triphammer Road not far from the mall as well as on Route 13 near the Cortland/Tompkins County line. I’ve even seen live deer near Carrier Circle, right by an Air Force base and an active industrial area.

3. State budget cutbacks have left less money for road crews to keep the highways beautified.

This really only applies to high-tax states like New York, and even then only to toll roads like the Thruway. In conservative states like Pennsylvania and Missouri, where locals are allergic to the idea of being taxed for anything, you’d never be able to scrounge up the cash to pay guys to throw lye on rotting woodchuck corpses.

I imagine it’s largely theory number one that’s the most accurate, with a bit of two and three depending on where you are.

I’m not going to claim that seeing dead animals on the road makes me sad or anything, because it doesn’t. I’m not a treehugger.

Human life is always worth more than animal life.

But regardless of that, anyone who takes pleasure in ending the life of someone or something else is a sick, twisted fuck.

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