Roadkill Diary

I’m not sure what to make of this, if anything at all. I’m just an observer. If there is a meaning that can be attached to it, I don’t know what it is.

During the past couple weeks, I’ve traveled on my motorcycle across deserts and mountain ranges and along and across the Colorado River in the Southwest. I also crossed the continent to the Northeast in a commercial jetliner, then drove an automobile around the plain south of Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes Region further to the south. And I observed more roadkill during that time period than I typically do in a year. I didn’t make any photographs of the former animals. It simply didn’t seem like a good idea to start a sub-genre of photography that would inevitably be called “Roadkill Photography”.

I started noticing the large number of roadside carcasses in the Mojave Desert around Twentynine Palms. A lot of dogs, cats, and the occasional ground squirrel. Riding down the long slope of the Sheephole Mountains toward Amboy, I spotted a dead coyote on the shoulder. That was quite unusual, since I don’t remember a previous coyote roadkill sighting. Coyotes are generally too smart to allow themselves to collide with one or two tons of fast moving metal. The corpse had a large gash at the left shoulder – the work of a chromed fender, no doubt.

In Western New York, along with the unusually abundant but usual mix of roadkill animals, I spotted a deer at the edge of the pavement in Seneca County. That isn’t as rare as the coyote, but I don’t live in a region where it is common, and don’t often see deer except when I’m in the mountains. There were raccoons, opossums, and skunks liberally mixed in with the standard roadkill cats and dogs on both sides of the country.

But the most surprising thing, to my way of seeing things, was the large number of black and white spotted dogs on the Navajo Reservation. Every one of the twentysome roadkill dogs that I saw on Indian land was a black and white spotted example of the species. I’m still wondering why that might be. Do the Navajo really like black and white spotted dogs? Or do they have a strong dislike for black and white spotted dogs? It is a mystery to me…