Wild Crossings Program: Pennsylvania to Construct ‘Special Highways’ for Wild Animals to Avoid Road Accidents

Wild animal crossing is an emerging solution for vehicular accidents involving wildlife in the United States, especially in the American West, and other parts of the world in recent years.

This so-called wildlife corridor has been proven effective in terms of reducing or avoiding road accidents between drivers and wild animals.

In the US, these “special highways” for wildlife have come their way into the eastern half of the country, with Pennsylvania being a likely candidate for the program.

Lagging behind its western state counterparts, Pennsylvania is reportedly considering constructing further animal crossings to address the issue of its high fatality rate of wild animals involved in vehicular road collisions.

For the plan to come to fruition, the Pennsylvania authorities will first study the situation of wildlife and identify hotspot areas in need of wildlife corridors across the state.

Previous reports estimate that thousands of animals die from car collisions in Pennsylvania each year.

Wildlife Corridor

Wild Crossings Program

(Photo : Photo by Jasmin Schreiber on Unsplash)

The idea of building a road or a highway for wild animals, called the Wild Crossings Program, could help both animals and people in Pennsylvania, which can get almost $1 million USD in federal infrastructure money from the federal program should the wildlife corridors be constructed.

The localized version of the initiative, being the Pennsylvania wildlife program, aims to allow animals cross above or below highways.

In a statement, Bob Frye from the Pennsylvania Game Commission emphasized that similar animal corridors are already helping Western states.

For instance, animal crossings allow elks to be off the roads and avoid interaction with traffic when crossing at higher elevations or lower elevations, Frye said.

In short, these special highways are equivalent to an overpass and underpass that humans also use in urban areas.

Also Read: Utah Bridge Provides Safe Wildlife Passage

Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program

In August 2023, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced its grant alert of the Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program (WCPP), a competitive grant program which aims at reducing Wildlife Vehicle Collisions (WVCs).

The WCPP also serves to improve habitat connectivity for terrestrial and aquatic species and provides funding for construction and non-construction projects.

Under construction projects, the Pennsylvania wildlife program involves the engineering, design, and other activities related to the construction of infrastructure improvement, such as the building or design of a wildlife crossing overpass or underpass.

Under non-construction projects, the program will also engage in planning, research, and education activities that are not directly related to construction, such as hot spot analysis of WVCs.

As mentioned earlier, there is a high number of wild animal deaths in Pennsylvania due to WVCs.

According to insurance agency State Farm, over 160,000 animals are hit by vehicles in the state every year.

Across the US, a study estimates that there are approximately 1 million to 2 million collisions between cars and large animals every year, as cited by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in its report to Congress.

Related Article: Conservation Goals to Protect Florida’s Wildlife Corridors Gains Traction

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