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We Can Save Thousands of Animals and Hundreds of Humans with Simple Road Tunnels

If you spend any time on the roads, you are familiar with the sad sight of the carcasses of raccoons, opossums, deer, coyotes, foxes, domestic cats and dogs, and many other animals littering the roadsides. The real toll is actually much greater than what you see: Most of the carcasses are removed by government workers soon after they are killed, before you even see them. If they were not removed, they would soon stack up like cord wood on the shoulders of every roadway in the country. In addition, hundreds of people are killed each year along US highways in collisions with wildlife. I've always thought there had to be a better way. And as it turns out, there is.
It seems so simple, it's hard to believe no one ever thought of this before. Perhaps, people simply didn't care. But now that studies are showing that one of the most deadly predators that any wild animals has to deal with might be humans and their cars, and now that our fragile ecosystems are eroding away with startling consequences for our planet, people are starting to care. And there is a solution to the problem of road kill: Tunnels.

Recent research is beginning to illuminate both the scope of the problem, and the solution. Animals as diverse as frogs, salamanders, moose, bear, raccoons, caterpillars, deer, ducks, beaver, badgers, rabbits, armadillos, tortoises, foxes, ocelots, coyotes, and etc have been imperiled by collisions with cars. Roads intersect their habitats and make it difficult or impossible to move across these artificial barriers. Millions of animals are killed on US roads every single year, and some, including the Ocelot, are pushed to the brink of extinction. So, within the past few years, tunnels (and occasionally over-passes) have been constructed in Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America. The results have been staggering.

Infrared cameras have photographed droves of animals using the tunnels to move from one side of the roadways to another. Lives are being saved and habitats restored almost overnight. Mountain lions in California, woodchucks and salamanders in Massachusetts, and bears in Canada are already benefiting from the new thought being put into ways that we can have less negative impact on the non-human animals with whom we share this planet. An experiment with badger tunnels in the Netherlands was so successful that they are now part of every new highway project. We could do this here. All it takes is will.

We can do this here in Cascadia. Tunnels here could save countless deer, coyotes, opossums, bobcats, ducks, beaver, otter, bear, frogs, and other native animals. There is no reason not to take this measure.

Please contact all of your public officials and tell them about this. Tell them you want to see every major highway retro-fitted with eco-tunnels, and that every new road project must include an eco-tunnel.

Here is some more information on this issue that you can use in this campaign:

 http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/05/0512_animaloverpasses.html

 http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/wildlifecrossings/badger.htm

 http://www.newscientist.com/blog/environment/2007/03/helping-animals-cross-road.html

 http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,640193427,00.html

This one has video of animals using a tunnel:  http://www.wbur.org/news/2008/80017_20080911.asp

Nice, but it's still a workaround, for the bigger issue 24.Jan.2009 20:08

Exile portlander_in_exile@yahoo.com

Automobiles. This is the real problem. Why keep facilitating this horrible product? The only thing we need is light rail, interurban rail, bicycles and people walking. Otherwise, we're just postponing the inevitable.