Release: Bipartisan effort to protect wildlife habitat introduced in Pennsylvania State House

Media Contacts

Susan Holmes

Director, Save America’s Wildlife Campaign, Environment America

HARRISBURG, Pa. — This week Pennsylvania state Reps. Mary Jo Daley (HD 148 – Montgomery County) and Jason Ortitay (HD 46, Allegheny and Washington counties) have introduced a bipartisan resolution that would help to protect — and halt the division of — Pennsylvania’s critical wildlife habitats. House Resolution 87 (HR 87) directs the House Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) to study and issue a report on the status, management and benefits of wildlife corridors. With 54 original co-sponsors, the resolution, supported by PennEnvironment, has considerable bipartisan support in the House. 

“House Resolution 87 is an important first toward protecting Pennsylvania’s diverse native wildlife species. From the monarch butterfly to elk and from black bear to our state bird, the ruffed grouse, HR87 can make sure that incredible species can call Pennsylvania home, now and for future generations,” said Stephanie Wein, clean water & conservation advocate at PennEnvironment. “PennEnvironment is pleased to see this first step towards protecting and improving Pennsylvania’s wildlife habitat, and urge the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to move quickly to pass this important resolution.” 

“Wildlife corridors” is a broad term for a number of different strategies utilized to  allow wildlife to safely move between habitats fragmented by human interference. Wildlife corridors decrease vehicle-wildlife collisions and keep wildlife populations healthy by allowing them more hunting, foraging, migration and mating options. 

“Pennsylvania is home to the largest contiguous forest between New York and Denver, but our beloved wilderness is increasingly broken up by roads, energy infrastructure and development, creating barriers that are harder and harder for our beloved wildlife to cross,” said Anthony Bastian of Pennsylvania Habitat Connectivity.  “House Resolution 87 is that important first step to reconnecting our natural heritage in the Commonwealth.”

“We are lucky that Pennsylvania is home to a wonderful diversity of plants, trees and wildlife. This study will help us look at how we can preserve that, as well as enhance our thriving outdoor recreation industry and provide for safer travel for people and animals around the commonwealth,” said Rep. Daley, one of the bill’s authors and Majority Chair of the State House’s Tourism, Economic & Recreational Development Committee. 

Besides protecting Pennsylvania’s wildlife, corridors also save lives and help avoid costly automobile collisions. Every year, Pennsylvania is among the five worst states nationwide for wildlife-vehicle collisions: 166,000 animal collision claims were filed in Pennsylvania from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021

“Wildlife-vehicle collisions not only result in costly vehicle repairs, but also injuries and even death to humans and wildlife,” said Rep. Ortitay. “We should make every effort to reduce these incidents and conservation corridors are one way to do so. I’m hopeful this study will offer ideas to better use this technique.”

The introduction of HR 87 also comes as the Federal Highway Administration rolls out a new five-year $350 million competitive grant program to fund wildlife crossings. By identifying opportunities for corridors, HR 87 will better position Pennsylvania to access funding for wildlife underpasses and overpasses. 

“Pennsylvania consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous states in the country for wildlife-vehicle collisions,” added Natalie Ahwesh of Humane Action Pittsburgh, “so a resolution that gets the ball rolling on protecting both animals and drivers — without any additional cost to taxpayers — is the type of commonsense solution Humane Action Pittsburgh can support. We are proud to see legislators on both sides of the aisle come together to support this important issue.”


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