Underpasses can make roadways safer for pets and wildlife

Simple measures reduce hit-by-car incidents and keep roadways safer.
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Dec 09, 2010
By dvm360.com staff

Often, wildlife—or stray dogs and cats—don’t stand a chance when they encounter a moving vehicle. You’ve surely seen the effects of hit-by-car incidents on some of your veterinary patients over the years. A recent study published in the Journal of Wildlife Management rated the effectiveness of underpasses created for wildlife and found that the cost of building these underpasses in the highway proved to be a savings of property and life.

In North Carolina, a new highway cut through a forested and agricultural area, bringing together cars and animals such as black bears, red wolves, and white-tailed deer. According to the study, part of the highway construction included three underpasses with fencing running alongside the roadways near each underpass to funnel the animals safely across.

For 13 months after construction, researchers tracked the highway using cameras and surveying the animal tracks. They found that with the special underpasses, wildlife fatalities were reduced by 58 percent. The researchers recommended further improvements to reduce wildlife–vehicle collisions that include continuous fencing along roads rather than in small sections, higher fences, and fences dug into the ground to prevent smaller animals from going underneath.