Helping Animals Cross the Road, One Overpass at a Time

Animals have a hard enough time surviving in the wild these days: the climate is changing, weather patterns are increasing in severity and food supply is often scarce. Add to this the ever-encroaching human who continues to gobble up every last piece of land that remains on the planet for our own consumption and it’s a tough road indeed. Sometimes, however, that road may be easier to traverse than others.

In countries like Canada, where wildlife plays a significant role in daily life, particularly in remote northern regions of the country, wildlife overpasses have been constructed to allow bears, moose and elk — just to name a few — to cross major roadways safely and securely. Wondering if it works? In Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, since monitoring began in 1996, wild animals have crossed the 35 underpasses and six overpasses more than 200,000 times.

This data doesn’t account for those animals that don’t cross safely, or that aren’t near the overpass to take advantage, but it’s encouraging data nonetheless, particularly when roadways are heavy with constant traffic, are hundreds of miles long and cut between an animal’s migration path, or a major water or food source. Most often, animals are forced to cross a busy roadway simply because they are unable to figure out another way, get confused or are acting out of pure instinct or fear. Sadly, an astonishing one million animals are killed each day on roadways across the United States, and that’s just one country.

While most of us have experienced a close encounter with a wild animal while driving and have probably witnessed the unfortunate sight of roadkill, we continue to get behind the wheel, drive away and hope for the best. As human population growth and global development continue at unprecedented rates, however, wildlife will be faced with increasing roadways and speeding vehicles taxing their already sensitive ecosystems and ways of life. An encounter with a wild animal while driving, particularly large animals like moose or elk, can also have a devastating impact on the driver, commonly injuring the driver and leaving the car either destroyed or severely damaged upon impact.

Clearly there is a need to remedy this problem on many levels.We, as the creators of these vehicles and massive road networks, have the greater responsibility to, at the very least, blend into these natural areas we’re developing on, ensuring that other species aren’t left completely helpless. Wildlife overpasses are a good place to start and they’re in the best interest of humans and animals alike. After all, we share this Earth and animals have just as much right to move around freely as we do.

Check out some amazing wildlife overpasses from around the world.

Related Stories:

Helping Turtles Cross the Road

California Records Roadkill Statistics

Another Controversial African Highway

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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Roney W.
Roney W.6 months ago

Your contents are too straightforward to browse and easy to understand. Paving Contractor Calgary

Rhiannon Bloomfield

I find this a good idea, I hope other countries follow.

Dale Overall

Quite shocking to learn that one million animals are killed on roads in the States every year.
Living in Ontario, Canada there is plenty of wildlife around and I keep an eye open for them. Even a lot of non wild animals such as a roving bull trekking down a rural road while munching on a wad of hay in the dark (he was all black) can be hard to see. Any measures that can be taken to help wildlife is wonderful. Will stop and help turtles across the road as there are endangered ones such as Blandings Turtles with their lovely yellow necks trying to get to the water. Snapping turtles, the big ones during egg season are more of a challenge to help off the roads but I do try and help these ones as well.

Mark Donners
Mark Donners3 years ago

If that psychopath Harper has his way there won't be any trees in Canada much less overpasses

Mark Donners
Mark Donners3 years ago

waiting for US politicians to do something decent and moral like this for wildlife..a snowball's chance in hell.

ann p.
.3 years ago

Without a doubtl considering we are responsible for destroying their original paths they traveled long before man invaded their territory.. ann

Cheryl T.
Past Member 3 years ago

Such a fantastic thing. Will save so many human and animal lives. So many animals get killed crossing roads but humans get killed too because they swerve to avoid hitting an animal and end up hitting a lamppost etc. The more overpasses the better.

Klaus Peters
Klaus Peters3 years ago

Great idea, wish more counties would follow. Both humans and wildlife benefit from this.

LMj Sunshine

Awesome article, thank you.

Berenice Guedes de Sá

The simple things are always the best solutions