STATEMENT: New federal program to connect wildlife, reduce collisions with vehicles

Media Contacts
Susan Holmes

Former Director, Save America’s Wildlife Campaign, Environment America

WASHINGTON — U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday launched the Wildlife Crossings Pilot Project. The program, which was created through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, provides $350 million in grants over five years to states and communities. The funds will be used to construct wildlife road crossings to prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions and improve habitat connectivity. 

With one in five species in the U.S. at risk of extinction, biodiversity loss and the disruption of wildlife habitats are among the nation’s greatest conservation challenges. Connecting habitats by protecting wildlife movement and building highway crossing structures for wildlife enables species to migrate, access resources for survival, and better adapt to changing climates and landscapes. 

This federal program will complement good work already going on around the country. Thus far, multiple states, including California, Florida, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming have passed legislation to protect wildlife corridors and promote wildlife crossings.  

In response, Susan Holmes, the Save America’s Wildlife campaign director for Environment America, released the following statement: 

“Building wildlife crossings over, under or across U.S. roads is a no-brainer. This first-of-its-kind program will create safer passage for drivers and will connect habitats, allowing wildlife to find food, mates and refuge in a changing world. Studies show that wildlife crossing structures with fencing are highly effective, reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions by up to 97%. That could save a lot of human and animal lives.

“Motorists kill more than one million large animals a year on U.S. roads—roughly one every 26 seconds. These accidents also kill more than 200 people and injure another 26,000 each year. This program will provide additional funds that will help state and local governments build wildlife crossings. 

“Our country has been remarkably effective at building roads, and now we can start funding projects that will help America’s wildlife cross them. We urge all states to aggressively pursue these new funds to protect wildlife and motorists alike.”