Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Critter Crossings" (2)

People getting together to solve the carnage!

The people of Central Florida noticed how many frogs, snakes, and turtles were being killed crossing a busy highway. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, about a thousand animals of eighty species were being killed a year along a two mile stretch of U.S. 441, which crosses a nature preserve. The local people with state transportation and natural resource agencies, environmental groups, and the University of Florida worked together to develop a safe crossing for the animals. The result was a tipped wall that diverted the animals to highway underpasses. Since building the wall, animals have been safely crossing under the road.

Salamanders in a Massachusetts town were being killed, trying to crossing a busy street to get to their breeding ponds. The people of Amherst tried to save the salamanders by carrying them across in buckets. To find a better way of saving the amphibians, the local people worked with the British Fauna and Floral Preservation Society, ACO Polymer of Germany, the Amherst Department of Public Works, University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Audubon Society, and Hitchcock Center for the Environment (a local conservation group) to design and build a tunnel for the salamanders to use to cross the street in safety. The tunnel was built, and hundreds of salamanders were saved.

To prevent Eurasian badgers from becoming road kill, badger tunnels (first built in Heumen Municipality, the Netherlands) provide a solution for the tradition-minded badgers. The tunnels connect municipal greenways with established badger setts. Since the implementation of the badger tunnel program, the population of badgers in Heumen has doubled.

For large and small animals, help is on the way. If we act as a determined group, we can help them. The U.S. Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21)) sets aside funds to pay for habitat connectivity measures (including crossing structures). The U.S. Federal Highway Administration will aid local groups in providing solutions for wildlife crossings. Contact the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Federal Highway Administration: Paul Garrett at (303) 969-5772 or Paul.Garrett@fhwa.dot.gov. Their site, “Critter Crossings”, provides examples of community action.

Remember working together we can prevent the carnage of the roadside.

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