Did you know that more than 200 animals can be killed in car collisions along a busy highway? Well, this was well demonstrated in Utah where more than 106 animals died in just two years as a result of road collision!
While most of the accidents are unintentional, the phenomenon poses a significant threat to wildlife globally.
Why Authorities Should Develop Road Crossing Safety Measures for Animals
Animals are a crucial constituent of the world’s ecosystem. As such, every individual should safeguard their survival to ensure their continuity.
The United States has more than 21 endangered species whose survival is further reduced by the risk of road fatalities. If safety measures are not instituted, the country will likely lose these valuable creatures!
Additionally, people are hurt when car-animal collisions occur. For example, deer-car collision cost the US an average of $8,190 while moose-vehicle collision cost a humongous $44,546.
What’s worse is the fact that the number of such accidents is rising each year! According to Rob Ament, the road ecology program manager, wildlife-vehicle collisions have increased by more than 50% over the last 15 years!
These statistics highlight the urgency of finding a lasting solution to the wildlife-vehicle collisions. But, what could be the solution?
A Possible Solution to Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions
One thing is certain; animals will always cross the roads. With this fact, authorities should concentrate on finding a safer road crossing alternative.
Fortunately, the building of wildlife underpasses and overpasses has proven to be effective globally. The technique has the potential to reduce wildlife-vehicle accidents by more than 85%!
History of Overpasses and Underpasses for Wildlife
The innovation has its roots in Europe. Different countries built the bridges to reduce the rising cases of human-wildlife conflicts. It was first built in France.
After noticeable success, the practice has spread fast throughout the world. Currently, more than 5 continents have implemented it including South America and Australia.
Interestingly, Washington State has joined in by constructing Snoqualmie Pass; its first wildlife bridge. It comprises six underpasses along a 15-miles highway that runs from Seattle to Boston.
More Details About Snoqualmie Pass
The construction of this wildlife bridge began in 2015 over Interstate 90. Its development has been successful and some deer and coyotes are already using it.
However, the bridge is still bare. The authorities have confirmed that they will plant native plants to enhance the aesthetic value of the bridge in fall of 2020.
Evaluating the Success of Underpasses/Overpasses for Animals
The success of wildlife bridges can only be evaluated by the number of lives it saves. One of the best examples of a successful bridge is Banff overpass built on Trans-Canada Highway.
Since its launch, the bridge has reduced the cost of animal-vehicle crashes by over 90%. In less than one year, the average number of crashes reduced from 10 to an incredible 2.5!
Challenges of Wildlife Bridges
Building wildlife bridges requires a significantly high budget. However, the structures’ benefits exceeds the initial cost of investment by far.
Also, the construction should be accompanied by thorough fencing to restrict the animals to only use the overpasses and underpasses. This requires a lot of time and resources to implement.
Finally, some of the animals that are not used to using these bridges require a significant time to acclimatize with the situation.
It is no brainer that wildlife-vehicle crashes are costly. As such, authorities should invest in overpasses and underpasses to ensure that animals cross the road safely.
While the initial investment cost might be high, the overall benefits of such a project are huge!