For those navigating the streets of Lawrence, it doesn’t take long to encounter an unlucky squirrel, opossum or raccoon that made an ill-fated dash across the roadway.
That may be because, unlike some cities, the city’s website or contact numbers don't specifically address how residents should report dead animals for cleanup. Lawrence resident James Kizer wants that to change.
“When you hit an animal or see one, you don’t know what to do about it,” Kizer said. “You don’t know who to call or whatever, you just kind of drive by.”
Kizer decided to do something more. Though he said he felt like a “committee of one,” he started sending letters asking the city to create a hotline for reporting dead or injured animals. Kizer said he sent letters, which also discuss other ideas to increase awareness of urban wildlife, to City Hall and nearly 100 local organizations.
Kizer said he’s gotten some positive feedback from residents, but hasn’t heard anything yet from the city. He said his goal is to start a conversation.
“For me it was a conversation that was more important than it seems, in terms of how we respect each other and how we respect and recognize our urban wildlife,” Kizer said.
City officials provided the Journal-World some answers to Kizer's concerns.
Interim Communications Director Porter Arneill said that if residents find dead animals near their home, the first option is to remove them and put them bagged into the trash. Though, Arneill recognized that approach isn’t for everyone.
“It’s not something I think anybody eagerly wants to get involved with, but there is a point where somebody has got to deal with it,” Arneill said.
The other option is calling city staff. Though the city's website and directory don't explicitly address dead animal removal, Arneill said the city does have staff who will respond to reports and dispose of dead animals.
To report dead wild animals, Arneill said residents can contact the solid waste division at 832-3032 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He said the city may have a different process for handling dead deer, but he is still in the process of gathering details.
For domestic animals, such as dogs and cats, Arneill said residents should contact the nonemergency police dispatch at 832-7509. He said dispatchers will send animal control officers during business hours to determine if the animal has a microchip or other identification before removing it.
Arneill said how the city handles dead animals hasn’t previously come to his attention, but that it is a good question. He said he plans to work on making the process for reporting dead animals more explicit for residents.
“I certainly will work on making something available so people have a good answer as to what they should do,” Arneill said.