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.
Photo Credit: The World By Road