Wildlife crossings: beauty, functionality and conservation in one

There is a photograph of a wildlife crossing in Wierden, Netherlands, which dresses up the home page of Microsoft’s Bing search engine. I noticed how beautiful it looked. This one seems to traverse a standard country road by which I mean not a dual carriageway. Considerable expense has gone into building this bridge which indicates a commitment to wildlife conservation in The Netherlands.

Beautiful wildlife crossing in The Netherlands
Beautiful wildlife crossing in The Netherlands. Photo: Alamy.

And there’s another beautiful photograph taken from a drone of a spectacular wildlife bridge crossing in the Veluwe, The Netherlands. The Dutch seem to have the knack of combining functionality with beauty.

Beautiful wildlife crossing, Netherlands
Beautiful wildlife crossing , Netherlands. Photo: Reddit.com

Turning to America, construction was recently started on the Wallis Annenberg wildlife crossing. The ground breaking for this construction commenced in April 2022 with a target for completion of 2025. It traverses Freeway 101 in Liberty Canyon and the beginning of its construction coincided with Earth Day. This is an important wildlife crossing as it releases mountain lions from their landlocked habitat, together with other animals, in the Southland Mountains.

Note: This is an embedded video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source or the video is turned into a link which would stop it working here. I have no control over this.

Some people might be concerned as to whether wildlife actually find these crossings and use them, but apparently, they have no difficulty in finding them. Sometimes it can be as little as 48-72 hours before wildlife starts to cross the bridge.

Of course, there’s no point having a beautiful wildlife bridge which joins up good wildlife habitat for the mountain lion (puma) on one side but on the other side there is little of use. The bridge must connect two large areas of habitat for the puma.

Without reference to any sources, I know that there is a real problem in Florida concerning the Florida Panther crossing major roads in that state resulting in many deaths which further jeopardises the survival of the puma in that state. At one time this was perhaps a more serious matter because it was believed that the Florida Panther was a distinct subspecies but since then, because the population size of that subspecies became so low, they have introduced pumas from the west which means the Florida Panther is no longer purebred. Certainly, though, Florida could do with some more wildlife bridges it seems to me.

Roads which bisect wildlife habitat is a constant issue of discussion for conservationists. Roads tend to carve up home ranges and territories of wild species creating fragmentation. This jeopardises survival.

In some instances, you will find a particular species fragmented into a group of several small populations. Conservationists want to join up those groups to prevent inbreeding. That process can be facilitated with wildlife bridges if and when needed.

I’m sure that one great obstacle to building a wildlife bridge is the expense. Looking at the photographs on this page, you can see how costly they must have been. There needs to be a genuine commitment to wildlife conservation in anyone jurisdiction to justify the cost.

You will also find culverts and tunnels instructed underneath freeways and motorways which provide the same kind of service to wildlife.

Apparently, Canada’s Banff National Park, which was once very dangerous animals and motorists alike has the most wildlife crossing structures than anywhere else in the world. They’ve proved very effective and include 38 underpasses and six over passes as of 2014.

The first wildlife bridge anywhere in the world was built in France in the 1950s but ironically it was not built to protect animals but to facilitate hunters guiding deer, I guess, so that they could kill them more frequently!

The Banff National Park wildlife crossings have enabled otherwise isolated bear populations on either side of the highway to breed. This, as mentioned, has helped to prevent genetic isolation and therefore inbreeding. Inbreeding weakens individuals in terms of their survivability due to inbreeding depression which compromises the immune system amongst other health defects.

Below are some more pages on conservation:

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Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Speciesism - 'them and us' | Cruelty - always shameful
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Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.