As the weather heats up, so do fatality rates among animals. Road kill is only one problem occurring between humans and animals. 2 million animals are killed each year in the United States from vehicle related incidents.* Mating, migrating, or hunting can cause animals to cross roads unaware of the looming danger of cars. How can we avoid this? Europe has created wildlife crossing structures that are slowly making their way into the United States.
These crossing structures started as a link for ecology over roadways. With time, animals started using them. States around the country are developing budget plans to build these "bridges" to save wildlife. Alligator passings were developed in the Florida Keys, animal passageways are underway in Washington, and wildlife crossings are reconstructing highways in Montana.**
Although these multi-million dollar projects push the financial limits for some municipalities, the benefits far outweigh the price tag. In Colorado, there has been an 82% to 98% success rate for these structures.*** Rural areas are not the only locations picking up on this trend. Los Angeles, California is currently designing the largest animal overpass in the world. Why? To save the mountain lion population!
Another major goal of these projects, besides saving the lives of millions of animals, is to reduce the environmental impact of roadways. Select highways chop right through animal territories. It is no wonder some species seem to spend more time in the road than off of it. By reconnecting this land, animals are less likely to be playing "frogger" with a mac truck.
Wildlife structures are also saving the country $8 billion in animal-related traffic accidents.**** By decreasing the number of animals in the road, we are also decreasing the number of insurance claims, car accidents, and human fatalities (about 30,000 to be exact).*****
What are your thoughts on wildlife structures? Do you think they are worth the cost?