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Did you know that in a given year, there are around 260,000 crashes involving animals and accounting for 12,000 human injuries and over 150 human fatalities? Even more heartbreaking, it is estimated that over 350 million vertebrate animals are killed by traffic in the US every year. In an effort to prevent such accidents and improve habitat connectivity, the US government is launching a pilot program to help fund the construction of wildlife corridors along busy roads.
Native American tribes, as well as state and local governments, can access $350 million in infrastructure funds for this ambitious project. The funds will be used to build wildlife corridors and add warning signs for drivers, making roads safer for both humans and animals. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is excited to announce this important step to make America’s roadways safer for everyone.
The pilot program will distribute over $111 million in the first round of grants this year. Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt believes that there are proven practices to prevent crashes between vehicles and wildlife, and this funding will enable communities to access the necessary resources for such projects.
Many Western states, including Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California, have already invested significantly in wildlife crossings and adopted legislation to secure federal matching funds for these initiatives. California, for example, broke ground last year on what it claims to be the world’s largest crossing—a bridge for mountain lions and other animals over a major Southern California highway.
New Mexico also joined the effort by passing legislation this spring to allocate $100 million for Conservation projects, including the state’s first wildlife highway overpasses for cougars, black bears, bighorn sheep, and other creatures.
The federal infrastructure law represents the largest investment in roads and bridges in a generation and the biggest sum ever dedicated to addressing vehicle-wildlife collisions. Technological advances have allowed wildlife managers and public safety officials to pinpoint the best locations for these crossings, benefiting both wildlife and motorists. U.S. Senator Jon Tester of Montana, who has advocated for more funding for these projects, said that investing in safer roadways would ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the great outdoors.
Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico also emphasized that the migration patterns of animals like elk, deer, and mountain lions have existed far longer than paved road systems. Acknowledging and respecting these patterns can result in safer driving conditions and reduced fatalities.
So, how can you Support this fantastic initiative? Spread the word about the importance of wildlife corridors and the benefits they bring to both humans and animals. Encourage your community and local representatives to Support the construction of these corridors in your area. Together, we can make our roads safer and protect the precious wildlife that shares our planet.
Take action today by sharing this article with friends and family, and let’s work together to create safer roads for everyone while preserving our wildlife’s natural habitats. Every step counts when it comes to making a difference for our planet and its inhabitants.
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