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A Path to Safety: Germany Spends Millions on Animal-Only Bridges

wildlife bridge

Animals will finally be safe from oncoming traffic in Germany thanks to new animal-only bridges the country has spent millions constructing.

According to Germany.info, 250,000 registered human-wildlife collisions occur in Germany every year. Animal-only bridges called “wildlife crossings” or “green bridges” are designed to restore the natural movement and migration of wild animals, decrease instances of disease, increase genetic diversity and prolong life spans, according to The Local.

The bridges are of course man-made but are built so that they mimic the surrounding forest environments.

“There are strips of sand just for insects, as well as grass, shrubs and other vegetation providing food and shelter to some of the smaller creatures,” said Gerhard Klesen, a forester from Germany’s Ruhr Regional Association who has spent a decade lobbying for animal-only bridges.

It usually takes around a year for animals to venture over green bridges but a few have chosen to cross in just three days after construction was completed, as with one bridge in Schermbeck. Some animals simply use the passages to cross from one side to another while others have begun settling in, making their nests and homes on the bridges.

So far Germany has around 35 animal-only bridges and some wildlife underpasses, including amphibian tunnels, which are built underneath highways. The bridges can cost close to five million euros and funding is typically secured via the Germany government, the EU or through private donors.

Green bridges and underpasses have been constructed in other areas around the world as well. The very first one ever built was in France in the 1950s, according to The Smithsonian. The U.S. also has its share of green bridges including 12 along a 40-mile stretch of Florida interstate. Out of all the world’s countries though, the Netherlands leads in animal-only passages with over 600 tunnels.

Countries like the Netherlands and Germany will hopefully serve as examples to inspire other nations to get on board the green bridge movement so that in time we will find fewer animals lining the sides of our freeways and roads.

To view a photo gallery of nine amazing animal-only bridges from around the world, click here.

Image source: Jeff Wilcox / Flickr

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