Wildlife crossings are structures that have been designed to mitigate the effects of roads on wildlife using wildlife crossings such as overpasses, underpasses, and crosswalks.
The first wildlife crossings were constructed in France during the 1950s. Since then, several European countries including the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, and France have been using various crossing structures to reduce the conflict between wildlife and roads.
Wildlife crossings may include:
– Underpass tunnels
– Viaducts and overpasses (mainly for large or herd-type animals)
– Amphibian tunnels
– Fish ladders
– Tunnels and culverts (for small mammals such as otters, hedgehogs, and badgers)
– Green roofs (for butterflies and birds).
Rapid deforestation and excessive human intervention into wildlife habitat has lead to ongoing straying of wild animals into human habitation. Interference with wildlife habitat most often occurs due to illegal encroachment and also when roads, railroads, canals, electric power lines, and pipelines penetrate and divide wildlife habitat.
Video: Banff Wildlife Crossing
Wild animals attempting to cross roads are often faced with oncoming speeding vehicles.
Road mortality significantly impacts upon the numbers of wild habitat. In addition to traffic collisions, species that are unable to migrate across roads to reach resources such as food, shelter and mates experiences reduced reproductive and survival rates.
One way to minimize human-wildlife conflict is to construct wildlife crossings that allow animals to cross human-made barriers safely. Wildlife crossings have become increasingly common in Canada and the United States.
Costs and benefits
The monetary costs associated with constructing and maintaining wildlife crossings in ecologically important areas are trumped by the benefits associated with protecting wildlife populations, reducing property damage to vehicles, and saving the lives of drivers and passengers by reducing the number of collisions caused by wildlife.
By Brendan Giles
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.