Unfortunately, traffic doesn’t stop moose and bears from crossing highways, nor it prevents smaller creatures from being smashed by vehicle tires.
Unfortunately, in a period of two years, along one highway in Utah, a cougar, three moose, two elk, 98 deer, and several raccoons were killed, making a total of 106 animals.
Moreover, in the US only, 21 species are threatened and endangered due to road mortalities, including the Alabama red-bellied turtles, the Californian bighorn sheep, and the Florida Key deer. But, humans are also suffering, not just animals.
Around 200 die on a yearly basis in more than a million of vehicle crashes in the US, according to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Administration.
Could this new installed bridges reduce these high numbers?
Bridges & Tunnels to Help Animals & Humans
One solution has shown to be very helpful worldwide in reducing the collisions between vehicles and animals that are crossing roads, i.e. wildlife under- and overpasses.
Thanks to fencing and crossings that guide animals to go under or over the highways, we can get 85 to 95 percent of reductions, according to Rob Ament, road ecology program manager at the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University.
This is the major reason why these bridges and tunnels that have been popular in Europe since the 50s are now appearing throughout the world. They usually look like regular overpasses for cars, but are filled with native flora.
The undercrossings that are beneath the highways are designed for shyer and smaller animals and may be invisible to drivers.
However, they’re helping a number of species, including gold monkeys and Brazilian pumas and London water voles. Ament is also working on installing wildlife crossings on highways which have been constructed yet in developing nations such as Bhutan.
There, there’s a high need for Asian elephants to traverse territory. He explains that it’s a lot easier and less expensive to build them in these mitigations during the construction of the road than to retrofit them like in the US and Canada.
Vital Constructions for Species Survival
It’s crucial to note that these crossings aren’t just of aid for the saving of individual animals, but also for the survival of species.
Namely, I-900 is an economically vital east-west lifeline and crosses high mountain passes in the Cascades where there are only few other roads.
However, a lot of the animals mostly want to go north to south and the ones south of the highway get trapped and bound by the highway to the north and with the Columbia river on the south, inbreeding was a potential issue.