Friends from upstate were feeling pretty good the other day. After landing early on a flight from Paris, they had sailed through customs and figured they would soon be safely home and ready for bed.
But they had been driving for about an hour when – boom – the last leg of their trip came to a bloody and premature end. A state trooper was soon on the scene and merely sighed; he sees versions of the same carnage almost daily somewhere on his beat.
Roy and Alex had hit a deer. It had, Roy tells me, come out of nowhere and smashed into the passenger side of the car, now a write-off. Better that, I suppose, than the experience of a woman in Illinois who recently had a deer come through her windscreen after leaping from an overpass.
It seems like early summer is the time when cars and animals just can’t help mating. The roads close to our place in the Hudson Valley are positively littered right now with swollen carcasses, most often of deer, raccoons and the occasional possum.
Across the US, something in the region of one million animals are killed by cars every year, costing about $8.4bn (around £5bn) in damage to vehicles and their occupants.
Those numbers are bit dodgy, but scientists in Utah have developed a smartphone app which will allow for much more accurate reporting of roadkill – it’s been dubbed the “splat-app” – that in turn will make it easier to post notices to drivers where collisions occur most frequently and in some cases build wildlife crossings.