Copyright 2002 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved

Crank's Corner

                                          Nothing But Roadkill

    I had this idea several weeks ago, while driving along the back roads
on my way to my mother's house.  I'd passed about a dozen dead raccoons
along the way, and, even though I always find the sight of roadkill very
depressing, I found myself thinking, "if I knew what to do with the skins, I
could have enough for a fur coat by now!"  That got me thinking (still on the
same drive) about the fur industry, protesters for animal rights, and how, if
we stopped raising and killing animals just for their skins, we could still
wear fur.  The answer was right in front of me (I had to swerve slightly to
avoid running over it): make fur coats, but use nothing but roadkill.
    Since then, the news has had coverage of animal rights protesters
disrupting a Victoria's Secret fashion show filming because one of the
models in it has a contract with a fur company, and the character Mimi, on a
Drew Carey Show re-run, was collecting roadkill in order to have an
inexpensive fur coat specially made.  Maybe this idea isn't as far-fetched as
it seems?
    The highway department has to go around and scrape these
unfortunate animals off the pavement anyway; what difference would it
make if, instead of incinerating or burying them whole, they skinned them
first?  Raccoons, woodchucks, rabbits, and squirrels are far from endangered
species; if anything, they are probably overpopulated, since we've killed off
most of their natural predators.  Why else would I see so many lying dead in
the road?
    If a reward of, say, fifty cents each were offered for these furry
carcasses, enterprising citizens might come forward to help the highway
department clean-up crews.  They tend to concentrate more on the major
roads than the country byroads, even though the country roads probably
have a higher roadkill-to-traffic ratio because the woods and ditches and
fields where the animals live are closer to the pavement.  Teenage boys with
pick-up trucks could earn a little extra cash while they're out driving around
like they would anyway.
    Someone would have to skin these animals, of course, but there are
probably enough mountain-man and hunter types out there who'd welcome
the opportunity to practice their knife skills that whoever was in charge of
the project would have to turn away volunteers.  "Go out shopping for the
afternoon, honey; me and the boys are gonna be out in the garage with a few
beers, watching the game and having a skinning party!"  With all the
historical re-enactments and frontier days festivals we have around here,
skinning could become a competitive event.  Historical theme-parks could
add olfactory veracity to their trapper's cabin or village tannery exhibits, too,
especially during the summer.  And the Boy Scouts could add skinning to
their "woodsmanship skills" category, and give out merit badges for it.
    Fur trappers and traders were some of the first pioneers in this
country; even in those unrefrigerated days, they managed to ship skins back
to Europe to be made into clothing, so there must be cheap, practical ways to
store skins while one piles up enough of them to make shipping them to a fur
company worthwhile.  The larger recycling centers would be good places for
collecting, skinning, and storing roadkill fur; there, among  the soggy
newspapers, unwashed milk jugs, and poorly-rinsed cans, who'd notice or
mind a few extra insects and smells?
    I'm not a vegetarian, but I do believe that if you're going to kill
something, you should use it all, which is why the fur industry bothers me;
raising something for the sole purpose of killing it for its skin is wasteful.
Trapping wild things for fur is no better, and is probably worse; we destroy
enough wildlife and habitats unintentionally, through ignorance,
carelessness, and by our very presence, without needing to go the extra mile
to do so deliberately.  If there aren't enough dead animals along the roadside
to satisfy the demands of the fashion industry, maybe we could start using
fur from the millions of unwanted dogs and cats that are destroyed annually
because people don't spay or neuter their pets.  Is that too creepy?  Would it
cause more fur furor, if folks were forced to confront the idea that the trim
on their collar might once have had a name, like "Fluffy" or "Spot," rather
than coming from some nameless critter; would that idea, in turn, reduce the
demand for fur?  I don't know.  Meanwhile, I'd prefer that furs made from
inedible animals didn't come from ones deliberately killed merely for their
pelts.  Fur is dead, and I'd like to know that the fuzzy wraps on fashion
runways were nothing but roadkill.

love letters or hate mail?