Save America’s Wildlife

Do Wildlife Crossings Help Birds? Absolutely!

Wildlife crossings not just for mammals - new federal funding will soon help our feathered friends

Duckling Crossing

Recently, I narrowly missed a beautiful box turtle ambling across a rural road. I quickly stopped and moved the little guy to a safe spot. But many other animals are not so lucky. 

Our network of roads can move a lot of people, but at a terrible cost to wildlife. One million large animals are killed every year on roads and over one million smaller vertebrate animals, including many threatened and endangered species, are killed each day. Roads fragment habitat making it difficult for wildlife to migrate, find food and mates as well as to adapt to climate change.

This weekend I joined the national call-in radio show and podcast, Talkin’ Birds with host Ray Brown, to discuss a new federal wildlife crossing program and the opportunities it brings for states and tribes to help animals –  from box turtles to bobcats – to safely cross the road. 

Tucked away in the huge multi-billion dollar bipartisan infrastructure package is the first dedicated funding for wildlife crossings. This new program will provide $350,000 million over the next four years for states and tribes to build underpasses and overpasses for animals. That means we can start to stitch together fragmented habitats, reconnect important wild places and allow animals to move across the landscape. This is so important – especially in the face of climate change.

And these new road crossings will benefit birds. Collisions with vehicles are among the top 5 reasons for bird mortality. Roadkill scavengers like golden eagles and ravens and owls which forage at the same height as cars are particularly vulnerable to vehicles. Reducing the number of carcasses on the road will decrease bird kill.  Also, ducks and geese – we all remember Make Way for Ducklings –  can use wildlife crossings to access water. Finally, connecting wildlife spaces makes habitats more biodiverse and resilient to change. That is a very good thing for birds.  

Every state needs to apply for this money

The deadline for the first round of grants is August 1. Over $100 million is available including funding for construction and non-construction projects this year. Go here to urge your governor to apply today.

Susan Holmes

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

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