It has been 30 years and the power of bridges still contributes to saving wildlife worldwide. Taking the role of a safe passage for wildlife, many countries in Europe use these bridges, despite to the USA and Canada, they are still fairly new. However, the change of tides is around the corner, as both countries are beginning to introduce wildlife-safe bridges for the first time ever.
To wildlife in Canada and the USA, these bridges are a lifesaver. Although an extensive project, the bridges are protective of both flora and fauna and are meant to last for years ahead.
The Way These Bridges Work…
Animal bridges were first introduced for use in the 50s, in Europe only. Today, the Netherlands has the greatest number of animal bridges on disposal.
These bridges need to be adapted to encourage animals to use them. For that, authorities placed fences to lure the animals onto the right track. With this, the bridges are able to reduce road killings up to 85% to 95%.
Let’s Talk Bridges Efficiency….
One of the most successful bridges which could serve this purpose is the one in Banff National Park. This particular bridge has prevented vehicle collision worth $100,000. However, for animals, the bridge would have to be readjusted to fit the criteria and necessities in the region. According to Tony Clevenger, wildlife research biologist, “Grizzly bears, elk, deer, and moose prefer big structures that are open. Cougars and black bears prefer smaller, more constricted crossings, with less light and more cover.”
The interesting thing about animal bridges is they are not meant for mammals exclusively.
These pathways also help out bees, one of the crucial insects to the human survival. With that, the bridges’ tops are planted in flowers, whereas on the inside, there are safety passages for the bees to enter.
Overpasses or Underpasses: What Works Best?
For the most part, overpasses are pricier than underpasses, but they are the most practical for animals. Some of the issues, in this case, would be an increased risk of animals interfering with each other’s territories. Overpasses may also cause the animal to jump over the fence and expose itself to traffic.
Due to these factors, many countries opt for underpasses, thus also saving up funds as well.
As per Richard Forman, a professor of ecology at Harvard, “Whenever there’s a road construction project, like upgrading a bridge or widening a highway, that’s a strategic moment to include a wildlife structure”.
The main purpose of the bridges is to serve both humans and animals, avoiding unwanted incidents, road kills or worse. A simple solution, really, the bridges benefit from overpasses more than underpasses. According to studies, which looked into road kills in Mexico, Florida, and Australia, there is one clear solution for this. What would work best for both humans and animals is building under and over passes. And while this can easily be a costlier project, the aftereffects are certain and truth be told, more than essential.