Readers of this blog know that maintaining corridors for wild animal crossing is essential to the survival of wildlife here and abroad. Highways take a frightful toll and blocking routes leads to inbreeding and local extinction.
We have frequently reported on Liberty Canyon, a freeway overcrossing that is designed to allow mountain lions and other wildlife to traverse the 101 Freeway. Unfortunately that crossing will come too late for P-22,. He was a cougar it was hoped would live to cross it. We have reported on CalTrans efforts to provide crossings as well.
Internationally, efforts to expand wildlife corridors are expected to help jaguars in Central and South America and tigers in Asia.
Today, the focus is on the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and its partners. USGS has just released volume three of an ambitious series of reports on wildlife migration patterns in the United States. USGS partnered with a variety of interested parties.
USGS is working with state and tribal authorities to identify the routes wild animals, including deer and antelope, use when migrating. The goal is to help identify key corridors and keep them open for the animals to use. This is important for hunters, ranchers and outdoor enthusiasts. The animals themselves, of course, and the web of life dependent on them receive the most benefit.
According to USGS:
“Many ungulate herds must migrate to thrive on the strongly seasonal landscapes of the American West. These corridor maps make it possible to plan for keeping those corridors open,” said Matthew Kauffman, research wildlife biologist with the USGS Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the report’s lead author.” Bold in original quote.
The project is maturing. When it started planners could only hope it would lead to better conservation planning. Apparently it has.
“… state and Tribal wildlife agencies, in partnership with transportation agencies, have used the migration maps to plan and construct wildlife underpasses and overpasses that allow animals to safely cross major highways or to develop message boards and automatic systems along highways to alert drivers of crossing animals. Maps are also being used to remove fences, inform recreation planning, guide siting of renewable energy projects, and limit housing development in migration corridors through zoning and conservation easements.”