Andrew D. Blechman notes a collaboration between the Montana Department of Transportation and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes that “led to the creation of the most progressive and extensive wildlife-oriented road design program in the country”:
The 56-mile segment of Highway 93 now contains 41 fish and wildlife underpasses and overpasses, as well as other protective measures to avoid fatalities. As creatures become accustomed to the crossings, usage is increasing—at last count, the number was in the tens of thousands. Motion cameras have captured does teaching their young to run back and forth through the crossings, much like human mothers teach their children to safely cross a street.
Wildlife crossing structures are such a smart idea that it’s difficult to understand why they’re still a rarity in this country. But by insisting on rebuilding highway infrastructure to address the needs of wildlife, the Salish and Kootenai tribes have led the way toward a greater sensitivity to fragmented habitats. Highway departments around the country are now studying their example.
Update from a reader, who points to a “pretty extraordinary photo sequence”:
Loved that photograph of the animal high-line. I’m sure I am not your only Florida reader who will bring this up, but we’ve been helping our beleaguered Florida panthers cross the road for decades now. Back in the 1980s, the National Wildlife Federation teamed up with panther advocates to file suit against the DOT to do something to stop the carnage on I-75 (the main artery connecting Florida’s coasts that bisects the panther’s habitat). The DOT eventually added 23 crossings, which by all accounts, has at least slowed this beautiful animal’s extinction. (Numbers are sketchy but there are less than 200 left). Here’s a photo of a panther making a safe crossing that I found in the Naples Daily News:
Pretty extraordinary photo sequence because Florida panthers are notoriously shy and rarely photographed in the wild.
The thread just made me think of this West Wing classic for a Wolves Only Roadway!
Previous Dish on a similar highway in Canada here.