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Humans Banned from Using Bridges for Animals in Germany

Humans Banned from Using Bridges for Animals in Germany

Germany is building some new bridges, but don’t even think about traveling over them. These cool passageways are designated for animals only, a method of both protecting and enhancing the lives of creatures whose territories have been interrupted.

When humans build roads, highways and canals, they set up unnatural barriers that divide animals in their own habitats. The consequences are more far-reaching than restricting the creatures’ mobility. In the long-term, not only does species diversity drop, but the limited mating prospects also inevitably decrease a species’ genetic diversity, meaning the animals live for shorter periods of time.

Last year, after a decade-long crusade, forester Gerhard Klesen finally secured the $6 million (US) necessary to build an animal bridge in Schermbeck, Germany. Klesen was inspired to construct the bridge after seeing the same idea thrive throughout the Netherlands.

Generally, creatures are wary of bridges of this ilk built near their habitat. As a result, few dare to cross them for the first year after construction. In the case of the Schermbeck bridge, however, the animals took to it immediately. After just three days, deer started utilizing the bridge, with boars doing the same by the end of the week. Scientists have since witnessed foxes, rabbits and bats travel over the bridge, as well.

The bridge doesn’t cater to just larger creatures, though. Smaller critters enjoy the structures, too. Bushes and grasses are planted to offer tiny animals both shelter and food. Some of the mice like the bridge’s dual-side access so much that they make their homes on the bridge on a permanent basis.

As tempting as it may seem, humans are banned from utilizing the bridge in order to keep animals feeling secure about crossing the structure. People caught defying this law will be fined nearly $50 (US).

Although, with just 35 in existence, animal bridges are fairly uncommon in Germany, the country is looking to change that in the near future. Over the next decade, Germany has allocated millions to add more than 100 more animal bridges in order to allow animals a safe method of traversing human-created obstacles.

Bearing in mind the steep cost, it’s a nice, environmentally friendly gesture to help animals live better and healthier lives. Here’s hoping that there are more efforts to protect animal habitats even in the face of human construction and expansion.

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Photo Credit: The World By Road

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166 comments

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12:30PM PDT on May 26, 2014

great idea, thanks for sharing :)

3:12AM PDT on Apr 21, 2014

Thank you

11:36AM PDT on Oct 30, 2013

Good idea - good concept!

7:28AM PDT on Oct 25, 2013

What an AWESOME concept! How I would love to see these all around the world. I guess the US is not as progressive as we like to think we are......

6:47AM PDT on Oct 22, 2013

Ryan b...
"Another way the EU is head and tails above the "western" countries."

I realise this is a bit late, but...
The terms use to define "western" and "eastern" come from the Eurasian continent, and the area known at the "west" is primarily Western Europe (with North America essentially added later).
So your comment is nonsensical because the majority of the EU countries ARE "western" countries!

12:08PM PDT on Oct 7, 2013

Lovely!! Calgary has bridges for animals near Banff. Only the US is still far behind.

7:38AM PDT on Oct 3, 2013

Lovely idea!

5:45AM PDT on Oct 3, 2013

We already have some of these on our highways our here in Australia similar to the one in the picture.

8:01PM PDT on Sep 29, 2013

Good idea. May take a while for animals to feel safe using it.

1:08PM PDT on Sep 27, 2013

Is not so hard to live in peace all together, thinking of the consequences of what we do

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