Ever wonder what happens to those animals unfortunate enough to have not won the race to the other side of the road? It's not a pretty sight: raccoons and cats struck by vehicles and flattened like pancakes. Or maybe even a dead deer that makes you want to look the other way as you drive by. When road kill attracts birds and animals as food, it can become a hazard and needs to be removed from the roadway.
Talk about a dirty job.
When Kevin Lehs approached his daughter with the idea of being something of a roadkill manager, she wrinkled her nose and says they made jokes about why anyone would want to have that job.
But then Katlyn Lehs thought more seriously about the pay she'd get in exchange, and she says the idea didn't seem so bad.
The college student initiated "Katlyn's Environmental Services," and has now been employed by RPM Access for two years, doing carcass sweeps in the area of two wind turbine projects.
Katlyn spends 2-1/2 hours each week at the Hawkeye Wind Farm and another three hours at the ELK project in Delaware County scouring the area for anything that might attract bald eagles or other avian species, as a food source, and maintaining records on conditions. When she locates carcasses, she takes photographs as part of her documentation, and removes the subjects and disposes of them properly. Her work area includes the main roads near the turbines, the access roads, and she walks the area under the turbines as well.
Lehs keeps a tub in the back of her Ford Ranger truck into which she collects the carcasses, using a pitchfork to remove them from the road or ground. Skunks are probably the worst offenders to her senses, but summer's hot weather can also result in a negative olfactory experience.
Birds are rarely found, and cats are the most common, she said. Also included in her reports is the day's temperature, and weather conditions such as if it's raining or snowing. If manure has recently been spread, that's listed too.
Katlyn's reports are made to RPM, by whom she is also paid for her work. RPM then, uses the information collected in it's reports to environmental agencies.
A business management major at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, she's not only using the pay to help finance her college education, but is gaining business experience as well.
It may be a dirty job few others would be interested in, but having grown up on a farm, Katlyn admits the work isn't much different than cleaning up after the sheep on the family farm.