Patrol Sergeant Nate Ludwig says the majority of the crashes involve deer, but last year a trooper had a close encounter with a wild turkey.
“It was coming through the windshield and it basically destroyed the whole inside of his car all the way to the backseat,” Ludwig says. “It took out his computer, it was quite the mess. All of the expensive equipment in our cars, any more damage than what’s done to a regular car is going to be exponentially more.”
Ludwig says the patrol is working with Iowa State University researchers to identify areas in the state that are known as “carcass crash corridors.” He says several dead animals along the road likely mean those are places where they need to be especially watchful.
“We have about 350 state patrol cars in our fleet, so, what we’re trying to do is basically mitigate the cost to the taxpayer and try and identify these problem areas,” Ludwig says. “We are always on the lookout for animals on the road but if we know we’re in a specific spot, we’ll really be on the lookout.”
Ludwig says the goal is to have the data programmed into the vehicle’s on-board computer system. It could be programmed to alert the officer when they enter a so-called “animal hotspot.”
(Thanks to Pat Blank, Iowa Public Radio)