AR-News: Critter-crossing strategies pick up speed
wolfcrest at hotmail.com
Wed May 5 00:29:16 EDT 2004
Critter-crossing strategies pick up speed
By Blaine Harden
The Washington Post
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SEQUIM When elk amble across Highway 101 in Sequim on the Olympic
Peninsula, radio collars around their necks set off flashing lights up and
down the busy road.
A continent away, when moose wander across Route 4 in the mountains of
western Maine, their hulking bodies break an infrared beam that triggers
flashing lights on moose-warning signs.
On re-engineered highways between the wireless elk and the beam-breaking
moose, there are underpasses for tortoises in California,
vibration-detectors for deer in Wyoming and a 52-foot-wide overpass for
deer, foxes, coyotes and opossums on Interstate 75 in Florida.
At an accelerating pace, federal and state highways across much of the
United States are being tricked out with critter-crossing technology, high
and low. It is an attempt to halt a rising tide of roadkill, the grisly
result of more cars, more sprawl and a continentwide resurgence of large
hoofed animals, including deer, elk and deadliest of all moose.
The scale of the nation's roadkill and highway-ecology problem is attracting
attention after decades of being ignored by highway engineers and
regional-planning agencies, said Richard Forman, a professor of ecology at
"We have come a long way since the mid-1990s, when there was a pitiful
amount of information," he said. "Thinking about road ecology is now
permeating state departments of transportation in a very positive way."
That thinking has reached Congress. For the first time, the Senate version
of a pending transportation bill would require all state transportation
departments to consult fish-and-game agencies from the beginning of planning
for roads built with federal money. Also, for the first time, the Senate
bill considers wildlife crossings to be a major safety issue and would
allocate federal money for fences, overpasses and other ways of reducing
"One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or
torture an animal and get away with it" Margaret Mead.
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