Wildlife Crossings Bill to Reduce Collisions Heads to U.S. House
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
AGOURA, Calif. - California drivers collided with animals more than 2,200 times in 2019, and three people lost their lives in those accidents. A new bill, part of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act in Congress, would allocate $350 million to build more wildlife crossings.
The bill, which sailed through the U.S. Senate, just passed a key committee in the U.S. House and now heads to the House floor. Kim Delfino, a consultant for the group Earth Advocacy, said the program boosts projects such as the proposed wildlife bridge meant for mountain lions over the 101 Freeway at Liberty Canyon, just north of Los Angeles.
"In Southern California," she said, "the mountain lion population is so small that when you lose even one single individual, the genetic pool becomes so small that ultimately, they're spiraling into extinction."
Other hotspots for wildlife collisions include Highways 280 and 17 in the Bay Area; Interstate 15 in the Mojave Desert, where bighorn sheep and desert tortoise roam; and on the road to Yosemite National Park, where drivers often kill a weasel-like animal called the Pacific fisher.
Delfino said the crossings would benefit spawning fish as well.
"There's a lot of streams along the coast that get cut off," she said, "and you could put culverts in underneath the roads to allow fish to continue to move back and forth to breed and feed."
Data from the Federal Highway Administration show crashes between wildlife and vehicles result in more than $8 billion in damages each year.
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