Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
The Utah Department of Transportation’s (UDOT) Division of Wildlife Resources chose the site due to animals’ migratory patterns but didn’t expect animals to adjust to the new infrastructure so soon, only 2 years after the overpass’s completion.
Why This Matters: Wildlife corridors and bridges have served as science-based inspiration for averting animal deaths on roads all over the globe. According to Defenders of Wildlife, there are 725,000 to 1.5 million wildlife-vehicle collisions in the United States each year. These collisions can cause 29,000 injuries to humans annually, but experts also point out that in some states, car collisions can be the primary threat to endangered species. For example, in 2007, 50 percent of all endangered Florida panther deaths were due to collisions.
According to UDOT, in the two years before the overpass was built, there were 106 collisions between vehicles and animals. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that 98 deer, three moose, two raccoons, two elk, and one cougar, were killed in collisions during that time. Since the completion of the overpass, experts have noted an increase in safety not only for animals but for drivers as well.
Even though Utah won’t have the official results for another few years, experts note that Florida and Colorado have already experimented with wildlife bridges, and Los Angeles plans to build the world’s largest wildlife bridge across a stretch of Highway 101. “You can get reductions of 85 to 95 percent with crossings and fencing that guide animals under or over highways,” said Rob Ament, the road ecology program manager at the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University
A Motley Crew: The overpass includes three miles of fencing, disguised by logs and boulders, on either side to guide animals to the overpass. Over the last two years, cameras and drivers have witnessed a large assortment of animals crossing the bridge safely. On Facebook, viewers can see videos of deer, elk, black bears, bobcats, porcupines, coyotes, marmots, and more crossing the road safely overhead.
Not only is it a rare matchup of animals, but a rare moment when infrastructure and nature come together to coexist. UDOT officials are excited about the increased public safety, and conservation organizations like Save People Save Wildlife are happy to retire an unsavory nickname for the stretch of road, once labeled “Slaughter Row.”
Members of both groups are excited to see what kind of animals they’ll see crossing the road in the next few years but disheartened at one particular creature they see crossing the overpass all too often: humans. Despite warnings, people have been spotted walking and even skiing over the wildlife bridge. Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources is hoping to put an end to that by raising awareness online and on-site, maintaining the newfound harmony.
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer A new study suggests that baby sharks are being born tiny, tired, and malnourished as a result of rising temperatures in the ocean. Scientists analyzed the effects of warming waters on young epaulette sharks — a small, egg-laying species that lives in the Great Barrier Reef. These researchers examined […]
In a story for the New York Times,Sam Anderson documents the lonely lives of the two beautiful creatures and details what we lose when a species vanishes before one’s eyes — it brings gravity to the extinction process that numbers and statistics just can’t.
Why This Matters: In 2019, the United Nations released a report detailing accelerating extinction rates.
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.