By now, I hope you’re all familiar with my mission… to cross the states from west to east in a bid to raise awareness of the need for more wildlife crossings in our country. However, it can’t just be down to me. I need your help in bringing more of these crossings to the problem highways.
There is a proposed wildlife crossing that I am excited about, for the Upper Rio Grande Valley. The National Wildlife Federation is working with the Colorado Wildlife Federation, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, and other partners, to establish federal protections for wildlife habitat connectivity. The corridor would cross three national forests: Rio Grande in Colorado, the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, and the Carson and Santa Fe in New Mexico. Some of the incredible species that will benefit from the corridor will be elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer, pronghorn, lynx, black bear, mountain lions, and the rare Rio Grande cut-throat trout.
It’s still along way off implementation though, and we still need far more wildlife crossings to help animals, and save lives.
What animals currently benefit from crossings in the US?
My first state to cross was Washington. The state completed the I-90 Keechelus Lake Wildlife Overcrossing in fall 2018, which has already documented animals such as deer, coyotes and small mammals using it. There are also a few underpasses around Gold Creek, Snoqulamie Pass, Keechelus Lake, Rocky Run Creek and Resort Creek, that benefit both fish a wildlife.
My next stop on my walk is Montana, and I hope to see some of the pronghorn and greater sage-grouse that currently are offered protection during their migrations across The Northern Great Plains. The corridor extends from Montana into Canada, support the longest migrations for both species.
I’ll also be walking through Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park, home to the largest distribution of mammals in the lower 48 states. Wyoming proudly have the Red Desert to Hoback mule deer corridor, which supports the longest mule deer migration in the U.S.
There’s also a network of crossings that has reduced deer collisions by around 80%, at Nugget Canyon and near Baggs.
Hopefully these inspire you to want to save some of your local wildlife, that are often involved in road accidents.
So what can you do to get involved?
Get behind the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act: an important legislation that will be a huge step towards improving wildlife movement in the United States. It is currently referred to Congress’ Committee on Environment and Public Work. Tweet them to ask them to push Senate Bill 1499.
Sign the petitions. It only takes a minute. We’ve listed some of the ones currently online:
Wildlife Crossings in Colorado:
Wildlife Crossings in Georgia:
Wildlife Crossings in Indiana:
General wildlife crossings in US/Canada:
Contact your local congress men and women, to ask them to get behind the implementation of wildlife crossings. Do your research, and find the problem roads and highways in your area, if you’re not sure where to suggest a crossing should be erected. If there is data to backup the number of vehicle collisions on the proposed road, have it available to show them.
Find your local senator.
Remember, when approaching decision makers, its always best to make sure they understand the cost implications and benefits. A great example is the Dead Man’s Flats underpass on the Trans-Canada Highway, which was constructed in 2004. Large mammal vehicle collisions in the five years prior to the underpass being implemented, averaged 18 per year, which is around $154,000. In the five years after the underpass was constructed, there were less than five large mammal vehicle collisions per year, which equates to around $21,000.
If installation costs around $525,000, the crossing pays for itself within five years, since the savings are around $110,000 per year.
Support the local and national organizations, who are working towards implementing more wildlife crossings. Here are the ones I’ve come across during my mission:
Washington: Washington State Conservation, Conservation Northwest
Montana: Montanans For Safe Wildlife Passage (MSWP)
Wyoming: The WYldlife Fund, Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT)
Colorado: Rocky Mountain Wild, Colorado Wildlife Federation
Watch this 25-minute safety training program, brought to you by the Forest Service. It’s aim is to help you reduce your chances of having large animal-vehicle collisions, especially with deer.
Get the media involved. During my walk, I have had the opportunity to conduct a couple of interviews to gain more interest in my mission. You can write into your local paper, or organise time on air, at your local radio station. Social media is also a powerful and easy way, to raise awareness. Here is the media coverage I have had so far:
Radio Interview - Omak, Washington listen here
Radio Interview - Montana University listen here
Article - Cascade Weekly - Man on a mission
Follow my mission, to get more inspiration to support wildlife crossings and help me get my voice heard:
YouTube channel: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCFE3N_qEr4nvYwBdFOfFZaw
My Go Fund Me page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/walk4wildlifecrossings