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Road Ecology: Making Roads Safer for Animals and Humans

Animals and cars don't go well together. Increasingly, wildlife crossings are coming into focus for many transportation departments across the country. The California Roadkill Observation System (CROS ) is the first statewide roadkill reporting web site and is a way for people throughout the state to record their observations of the dead animals and of their environmental context. By recording roadkills, we collectively increase our knowledge of the potential and actual impacts of wildlife-vehicle collision and how we might reduce these impacts. In a recent New York Times article, the 2008 Federal Highway Administration report estimated the number of accidents with large animals and automobiles between one million and two million a year. The agency estimates such accidents result in over $8 billion in damages annually. In the sames article it was reported that 200 people die each year in accidents with deer and other animals, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Federal Highway Administration provides money to state transportation agencies to help minimize the number of animal accidents using methods such as fences, bridges, and tunnels to electronic animal-detection warning systems. Jodi Hilty of The Wildlife Conservation Society stated in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, that wildlife migration corridors and habitat were not taken into consideration when the country's highway system was conceived.  The result is all the road kill that litters the country's highway systems. In July, eight pilot projects of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) Wildlife Council’s corridors and crucial habitat protection plan consisting of a series of two-year projects that seek to provide solutions to complex wildlife challenges surrounding crucial habitat at the landscape scale. The ultimate goal, according to the WGA, is to create a framework of support for collaborative, region-wide wildlife decision-making on topics such as habitat loss and climate change. Find out more on road ecology in Safe Passages: Highways, Wildlife, and Habitat Connectivity and Corridor Ecology: The Science and Practice of Linking Landscapes for Biodiversity Conservation.
 

In addition, about 200 people die each year in accidents with deer and other animals, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Federal Highway Administration provides money to state transportation agencies to help minimize the number of animal accidents. “The methods are as varied as the wildlife themselves, ranging from fences, bridges and tunnels to electronic animal-detection warning systems,” said Victor Mendez, the agency’s administrator.