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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Roadkill I280 – Definitely No Food Party

Uploaded: Feb 15, 2016

Approximately 1.3 million deer are hit by vehicles each year in the US., including one every three days on Interstate I280, according to the UC Davis Road Ecology Center. A dynamic duo of two committed women are trying to do something about it, and asking your help.

“It’s just carnage out there around 2AM - 4AM,” says San Jose resident and activist, Kathryn Harrold. I’ve driven 280 home late from work to find multiple deer over multiple lanes just mowed down. I’ve seen enormous blood stains on the road, followed by chunks of bodies: it looks like a war zone. But Caltrans goes out early in the morning to clean up the freeway so people never see it.”

In response, Harrold started asking questions, calling Caltrans, and even helped secure a 2009 grant to study the issue and determine what could be done.

It’s been two years since the completion of Interstate 280 Wildlife Connectivity Research Study: Findings and Recommendations, yet nothing has been done.

Alicia Falsetto of Menlo Park also took notice and teamed with Harrold to create a citizens petition forcing Caltrans to action.

“The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County purchased 280 acres to build a wildlife corridor for the mountain lions, and Southern California is working on it too,” says Falsetto. “We would love a corridor on 280, but the first step is to just repair the big holes in the fences along the freeway, erect some new fence, prevent ramp access, and enact the other recommendations. Caltrans has the money allocated. The animals are more likely to follow the fence line to an existing culvert or underpass, rather than trying to cross the freeway.”

- photo courtesy Fraser Shilling, UC Davis

Harrold and Falsetto aren’t part of a nonprofit, but no one is working harder for solution then they are. These are two highly motivated ladies asking for input from local people, and support for California State Senator Jerry Hill who has written Caltrans asking for movement on the issue.

“Our goal is community awareness,” says Harrold. “This situation is dangerous for cars and for animals.”

What You Can Do
1. Write Caltrans Director Malcom Dougherty and District Director Bijan Sartipi to encourage action.

2. If you hit an animal on I280, email your story to

3. Sign the citizen’s petition asking Caltrans for action.

4. Write POST (Peninsula Open Space Trust) and encourage the support of wildlife corridors on our local freeways.

5. Watch 60 Minutes, The Mountain Lions of LA, to learn more.

6. Always drive carefully, but especially late night/early morning. You may think you're alone out on that dark and lonely road, but you're probably not.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Carlie, a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline,
on Feb 15, 2016 at 8:16 am

Fabulous, thanks for writing about this Laura.

Posted by safe driver, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Feb 15, 2016 at 9:24 am

The best things that everyone can do is obey the speed limit, turn your cell phone off, and pay attention the road. Do this on freeways as well as residential streets and you may save lives other than your own.

Posted by Level Headed , a resident of another community,
on Feb 16, 2016 at 2:09 pm

As someone who is frequently on 280 during the very early morning hours, from the San Bruno area to 85, I can attest that deer do get hit regularly, but to call it "just carnage out there" is a gross exaggeration. They have been getting hit in this area regularly since the 70's. Also, to suggest that Cal trans is out cleaning up early "so nobody sees" is pure speculation by the passionate activist who has invested much in this issue. I think it's done more-so because of safety issues.

Every once in a while I see deer hit....every once in a while, and yes it can be a bloody affair since deer have blood in them, but it is not some nightly carnage quickly covered up. It simply isn't, but I still support the corridor.

So, that said, lets build the corridor it's a smart idea, but lets also not exaggerate the issue in order to make the issue seem worse than it really is.

Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Whisman Station,
on Feb 16, 2016 at 3:48 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Jefferson County USED to have this problem; I almost killed a deer.

Early one morning about 4 a.m. I set out early to my job. KNOWING that deer or elk live nearby, I was doing 40 in a 55 MPH zone. I saw a flash to the right and slammed on the brakes in my XJ12L. Like its sister, the XKE, I had 4 wheel disk brakes and you STOP quickly. One of the deer's hooves impacted on my left headlight trim piece. It spun around and was disoriented for a few seconds and bounded off.

In that county, the fences were made with one important addition: a ONE-WAY STILE that allows deer and elk to get back to their habitats. A mound is built on THE ROAD SIDE OF THE FENCE and a JUMP-OFF opening is in the fence. The jump off is made too high for the deer and elk to jump on to.
The DOW usually moves the carcass to known mountain lion or wolf habitats or the local zoo.
In rural habitats that do not have predators, the deer is tagged and released to the local farmer/rancher as venison. Yes, I have ate venison during my stay at Grandpa's farm. We had the best corn-fed ( OUR CORN FOR CATTLE! ) deer around.
I'll save the comments about certain drivers and collisions for later.

Posted by Lauralies, a resident of another community,
on Feb 16, 2016 at 5:04 pm

You aren't really "the punisher," are you? No matter, I like what you add. Jefferson County Colorado?

Posted by Lauralies, a resident of another community,
on Feb 16, 2016 at 5:10 pm

Get Caltrans to fix animal fences here: Web Link

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Feb 16, 2016 at 7:39 pm

First of all, the deer were here first. The people, cars and freeway came later. And there are more people/cars today than there were forty years ago.

Any "carnage" that Harrold or others may have seen is simply a law of averages. If you see a dead deer on any given night, for the next two nights there probably will be zero. Deer (especially does and their fawns) travel in groups, so it's possible to see three dead deer in close proximity, but thus not see anything for six days.

Moreover, some of the deer movement is based on factors like food and water availability. They need to forage more in the winter for food and after years of drought, they are forced to travel further to find food. Because of local geography, much of that means following streams downhill toward urbanized areas.

And where deer go, there are mountain lions not too far behind. A lot of these critters are following the various eastward flowing creeks from the Santa Cruz Mountains (Coast Range). Almost all of these intersect in some manner at I-280.

I commend the efforts of Harrold and Falsetto, but calling it "carnage" smacks of hyperbole rather than fact.

Posted by Oh Deer, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Feb 16, 2016 at 8:08 pm

It's not just deer, right? Lions and small animals too?

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Feb 16, 2016 at 10:05 pm

@Oh Deer:

Yes, I see far more raccoon, squirrel, housecat, skunk roadkill than deer.

Mountain lion roadkill is pretty rare. As large apex predators there are far fewer of them roaming around. Plus, I generally think of mountain lions as far savvier than deer.

Posted by Kathryn, a resident of another community,
on Feb 17, 2016 at 9:36 am

Laura, thank you so much for covering this issue! Your action items are terrific (thank you Lauralies for sharing that link as well) I appreciate your article very much as I do everyone's thoughts on the subject. Thank you anyone who signed the petition as well!

A couple people take dispute with a term I used, thank you for that. I appreciate the chance to explain that I used the word carnage because I thought it was the correct way to describe what I saw, which was, "multiple deer over multiple lanes...mowed down. I’ve seen enormous blood stains on the road, followed by chunks of bodies" However, I went and verified the definition of "carnage" (don’t want to make the same mistake twice, after all) It is:
: the flesh of slain animals or men
: great and usually bloody slaughter or injury (as in battle)

Confirmed, I have seen carnage many times over. Today, perhaps even…Is the coyote's head which has been laying just south of the off ramp by...I think Alpine Road, not considered carnage? If you don’t consider a head, flesh, I promise you the tattered body was not far away when it was hit about two weeks ago.

When humans create infrastructure with no regard to other species of life, it can cause negative impacts to those other species, with reverberating impacts. In countries and even states in the US where roads are built with structure in place that gives consideration to the passage of wildlife, they do not have this issue.

Some are disputing my seemingly ludicrous descriptions, meanwhile, these animals are suffering, so we’ve called for action. I've seen it and can attest to the fact they do not always die quickly as it may seem as you whiz by at 65+mph. Can you imagine what that's like? Do be maimed by a car and have to just lie there?

*Warning – The following is a potentially disturbing paragraph:
The female deer I photographed on 2/14 had breakfast that morning (I’m sorry, let’s not personify her. She ate grass that morning.), her body was 5 feet further north from where she was first hit, and then got back up (it appeared she had attempted to walk, but then collapsed). Her entrails were neatly laying just outside of her belly fur, completely in their places still, as if she collapsed first, and then they rolled out of the split fur. (Thinking, if they fell prior to collapse, they would be a long mess) She wasn’t turned into “carnage,” as she was in one piece, but is this ok with everybody? The buck I watched the CHP shoot was laying along the hill’s ditch and his spine, or some other bone, had broken and was protruding out at least 3” just above his rear. When the officer arrived to shoot him, this buck lifted his head and looked at the officer as he fired. That buck had to lay on Farm Hill’s hillside for as long as it took that officer to arrive, suffering. Then his body stayed there for at least an hour after he died. Just lying there. Like his life never mattered. To me, it mattered. So, I use graphically 100% accurate descriptions of what I see in hopes it creates a larger mass of people to support addressing the issue.

This is all not acceptable, especially now we have solutions (as the Punisher so kindly shared, thank you!) that GREATLY reduce threats to safety, the wildlife and the drivers (you, me, our kids, parents, friends) It's time Caltrans D4 add I280 to their wildlife connectivity project list, as they’ve done on SR-17. We don't need to have every answer to every question right off the bat, but come to the table with the intent of action, at least.

Lastly, “But Caltrans goes out early in the morning to clean up the freeway so people never see it.” CHP dispatch phones ring when a dismembered body lay there, especially as rush hour picks up. There are grizzly scenes they do not want people to see, or be endangered by if they swerved to avoid it.

Warm regards,

Posted by marie, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Feb 17, 2016 at 11:29 am

One way to solve road kill once and for all is bulldoze the freeway and put back the empty green fields that were there before the freeway was built in the early 70's. The wildlife was here first. The road kill problem started after Interstate 280 was built. So don't go blame the animals when humans are the problem.

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Feb 17, 2016 at 12:08 pm

That's a very nice sentiment, Marie, but how far do we go? How about we bulldoze your house at the same time? It was doubtless once an empty field.

Oh, and let's pull out the Caltrain tracks too since those were only added just over 150 years ago.

Basically anything human beings have done since they stopped being hunter/gatherers and developed agriculture has been detrimental to the indigenous wildlife in different ways in varying degrees of damage. Should we all go back to scavenging food?

Or, we could focus on *REALISTIC* treatments to existing infrastructure and campaign for better infrastructure design in the future. That's the point that some of these deer activists are trying to make.

Posted by JeffM, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Feb 17, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Several years ago I hit a deer at 4:30 a.m. on 101 in San Carlos. It dashed out, then dashed again when I swerved across the trafficless roadway. The prevalent assumption meant that I spent the next two days saying,"No, really, not 280, it was 101." There are a lot of deer in the parks and residential hills above Brittan Ave., and apparently they follow the creek courses down to the bayshore marshes. Needless to say, it was sad and messy event, but at least it died instantly.

A friend in Maine recommended dear whistles (mounted in the front grille, inaudible to humans) which I have been using since. Deer in quiet areas do seem to notice the car coming and look up.

Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View,
on Feb 17, 2016 at 9:30 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Please note the two " nn "s because most of my speech involves wordplay. I am " THE PUNNISHER " on the Internet.

Yes, that is Jefferson County in Colorado. My parents still live in Mountain View and I have been back to get treatments and recovery therapy at Stanford and the REACH Program run by Foothill College, my " official " highest level of education.

Ever wonder why Los Gatos got it's name from?

I have seen the carnage as well. Sometimes I hear a single shot as a Deputy has to put down a deer or elk.

Since we are not being PC, I see a lot of cars being put on tow trucks with their windshields caved in. What to guess where the license plate comes from?
When a buck and his harem cross a road, we stop on both sides of the highway. this elk or deer movement takes ~10 minutes. Some people get impatient ( that out of state plate again ) and try to drive on the shoulder of the road. The lead car usually moves to the right to block that car and the buck watches as the rest of his harem move across the road.
Evergreen = a slower lifestyle.
Since Elk Meadow is close, I get the loser in the mating rut. They become lawnmowers and jump the back fence to settle down and chew their cud.

Deer do the same thing. Late last year, a fawn accidentally got trapped in my back yard and started bleating for Mom. I called the DOW and they opened the back gate ( I'm disabled ) and Mom came back to fix the problem.
We live in harmony with the local wildlife. A buck will look me straight in the eye, then keep munching the grass. I have a local vixen and her kits show up and march across my doorstep unafraid. I have seen mountain lion tracks and bear scat on my driveway.

The way to best stop carnage IS TO SLOW DOWN. It worked for Evergreen, CO

Posted by Lauralies, a resident of another community,
on Feb 17, 2016 at 9:39 pm

OOOO I see it now, "two nn's" Punnisher in da' house! Who do you punish?

Posted by A reader, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Feb 18, 2016 at 7:26 am

Deer Lives Matter! Go Kathryn

Posted by cm, a resident of Downtown North,
on Feb 18, 2016 at 2:23 pm

Regarding Marie and then Reader's comments. It may not be practical to remove 280 as Marie suggests or everyone's homes as Reader then jokingly offers up, but questioning how much land and resources humans should control and what accommodations should be made for other species is extremely important. Human overpopulation, with the accompanying destruction and pollution of lands and waters, is the driving cause of a massive extinction event that is happening now world wide. California is one of the most overpopulated states in the US, has the worst environmental destruction and the most endangered species. Kudos to those who care about the problems caused by too many people and their effect on the natural world. It is time to discuss the real problem which is the need for a population policy that will allow a sustainable number of people to coexist in the world with other species. We know how to stop the growth we just don't have the mindset to make it happen yet.

Posted by Alicia, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Feb 18, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Thank you all for taking the time to read and comment on the safety of i280, an issue we have been working on for years in conjunction with the Road Ecology Dept at UC Davis. Once we reach 500 signatures, we will be sending our petition to CalTrans with another letter. Please help us spread the word and sign the petition today. If you do not like signing petitions for fear of more email, there are boxes, at the bottom of the petition page, you can "uncheck" Web Link

Posted by Why the fuss, a resident of Green Acres,
on Feb 19, 2016 at 7:05 am

- slow down and pay attention (turn off your phone !!!0
- don't drive 280 between 2AM and 4 AM
- don't drive 280 at all
- bulldoze 280 and return the land to nature
Problem solved.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Feb 19, 2016 at 7:27 am

Why the fuss - thanks for the laugh this morning.

Posted by Alice Waters, a resident of Stanford,
on Feb 20, 2016 at 9:53 am

Why is no one talking about EATING these deer? It seems such a waste. If they're going to be run over, shouldn't they be processed for food?

Posted by Kathryn , a resident of another community,
on Feb 20, 2016 at 10:05 am

Well, eating the multitude of deceased species that litter I280 wont actually fix the problem, plus Im not sure if eating tick infested deer filled with parasites is a good move. These herds munch on junk on the side of the road.

Simply eating the dead does not solve the issue because unfortunately drivers still risk injury or death when wildlife get in the road, and the animal still suffers after it's been hit.

Suffering is a not a good thing, and I don't think people should be risking life or limb due to wildlife wandering around while driving on the highway.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Feb 20, 2016 at 10:10 am

Alice Waters, well that is the Food Party! issue now isn't it? If you google it, the name "roadkill" came from finders would eat it. That's one way the wild boar situation in Hawaii is handled, except people actively shoot, rather than pick up off the road. Picking up off the road doesn't sound like a good and smart sport to me.I have eaten venison shot up on Skyline though, so people do use this technique.

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