Guest Post

These beautiful wildlife bridges are saving animal lives

September 6th, 2019

Some things just make life safer. Take crosswalks, for example. Just having those lines painted on our roads is enough to save lives. It allows us to predict the behavior of both pedestrians and cars, and it leads to fewer collisions with pedestrians.

But what about more rural areas where city blocks are replaced with long roads and highways snaking through woods and mountains? They have a different problem: wildlife.

Crosswalks won’t work, what will?

Searching for a solution

For small animals like squirrels and raccoons, the sound of oncoming traffic is terrifying. They avoid roads as much as they can. Larger animals like bears and moose are more indifferent to these sounds.

It’s no surprise that, according to the Federal Highway Administration, there are between 1-2 million road accidents involving large animals every year in the U.S.

The same report by the Federal Highway Administration also found that millions of animals are injured and killed in these accidents with some endangered species almost going extinct because of it.

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michielap via Reddit Source: michielap via Reddit

A real danger

Thousands of people get injured with more than 200 dying from these accidents annually.

What’s worse is, with the increasing number of roads being built in natural ecosystems every year, the number of accidents has risen by 50 percent over 15 years. It’s nothing to scoff at.

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cheekyasian via Reddit Source: cheekyasian via Reddit

A beautiful solution

Wildlife crossings allow animals a way to avoid roads, reducing collisions between wildlife and cars.

Research in some regions shows road accidents involving wildlife reducing by more than 85%. That is huge.

Wildlife crossings don’t just save animal lives, they help avoid thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths.

Some studies in Florida, Australia, and Mexico show that they also help save money. That means they are not just another expense.

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Obiektyw1855 via Reddit Source: Obiektyw1855 via Reddit

Keeping it green

A major and often overlooked benefit is the restoration of ecosystems.

Some of the major roads we rely on do cut through entire ecosystems, dividing animals and keeping them away from the rest of their species. This makes breeding for some almost impossible, which eventually leads to their extinction.

This sort of extinction of native species has already happened in most states in the U.S.

What does this mean for humans? Every ecosystem has a delicate balance held together by the existence of both plants and animals. The plants feed the animals, some animals feed other animals, and animal’s migratory and feeding habits help in plant reproduction and survival. Every piece fits perfectly.

Take out a single piece and everything falls apart.

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Dough4872 via Wikipedia Source: Dough4872 via Wikipedia

Nature is medicine

As of today, only less than one quarter of the planet’s plant species have been discovered. Through research, these species have given us thousands of medicines and treatments we use today.

Imagine how much more we could discover if we explored what’s left of our ecosystems? Road accidents involving animals affect the potential that these ecosystems hold. We’re being robbed of the chance to find answers to a lot of the diseases we’re trying to cure.

Hopefully, we will see even more of these wildlife bridges as they become a part of the road planning process.

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As if those weren’t enough, here’s a blue penguin underpass in action:

Blue Penguin Underpass, Oamaru

The blue penguins are happily taking to their new underpass – the first of its kind in New Zealand! This underpass helps provide safe passage for the penguins from the harbour to their nests across the busy road. To monitor the use of the passage, we set up a few cameras. With a little light at the end of the tunnel to guide the way, the little blues just waddle on through! #penguins #LittleBluesInOamaru #OBPC #wildlife #WaitakiNZ

Posted by Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony on Thursday, November 3, 2016

Source: Bored Panda