Saturday, April 5, 2008

Roadway renovation finished -- roadkill toll rises

Only last year I ate alligator for the first time in my life, tucked away in some gumbo pre-doused with Louisiana hot sauce. Sad to say, the 'gator meat appeared to be young and cut into tiny squares.

How insensitive of me. Returning to the Stuart, Florida, area last year with a family member, an adult armadillo was observed in the roadway, cracked open alive with a split extending from throat to tail, internal organs spilled out onto the pavement. The roadway extends onto the first of two bridges spanning two major watersways, where cars must accelerate (per instructions in driver-training manuals) around a curve; there was not an injury or mark on the beast otherwise.

Most of the roadkill observed drop dead from anxiety before they are ever hit or slaughtered within vehicular traffic flow -- a polecat, as example, in perfect condition with the appearance of a plush children's toy and physiology that seems to be a cross between California 'tuxedo cats' and large squirrels. A telephone call made to local animal-control dead-animal pick-up apparently could not be accomodated by the hurricane-shocked populace, so that an eagle carried away the dead creature and returned only the pelt weeks afterward.

Such pelts are routinely left along roadways as returned by the eagles, both here and in other regions of the eastern United States, as if communicating that "they are sorry, but they are hungry, too". Squirrels, skunks, cats, bears and other mammalian remains litter roadways along with the shed skins of reptiles, peeking yet-alive with bright new scales from grass and trees.

Journalism during this past two weeks reported a large-pig kill in a regional roadway that also killed the driver that hit 'im. Last night a West Palm Beach television station broadcast a video of a large alligator dead in a roadway, bloody and shredded in traffic together with a crashed truck, injured driver and several disturbed motorists while large wading birds shrieked and hip-hopped near the carcass.

Red, skin-searing ants march without much opposition throughout Martin County, as if on patrol avenging their much larger, toothy relative the armadillo. The bites can only rise up in the form of painful, white-capped pimples where-ever the insect mandibles get a grip; they pierce and hold on to skin and curl up, resisting efforts to dislodge them -- which means that sandals are not verboten, but that crowding the little beasts is not recommended.

Flocks of crows signal with loud cries when a human drowning victim surfaces in the local waterways, with a mourning note when one of their own is blamed and pulled from the air to be smashed on the ground.

So what else is new?

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