Wildlife Bridges Around the World Are Helping Deer and Crabs Cross Roads Safely


Wildlife crossings go under or over roadways so animals don't have to cross paths with human traffic. Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images
Wildlife crossings go under or over roadways so animals don't have to cross paths with human traffic. Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images

Humans have created plenty of structures to ensure our efficient travels, from bridges to tunnels. But hey — nonhuman animals need help getting from point A to B, too, especially in high-traffic areas. Man-made overpasses, underpasses, bridges, tunnels and ramps around the world provide pathways for creatures to move safely about.

Recently, ducklings and goslings too small to make their way up and over the cement edges of Indianapolis, Indiana's downtown canal perished. That's when a few city officials came to the rescue and installed little wooden ramps, leading those babies in and out of the water without harm.

Wildlife crossings (as seen in the video above) help conserve habitats and prevent collisions with human traffic, so they're pretty important. The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration even published a wildlife crossing handbook that helps people in industries tasked with planning, designing and even monitoring effective "critter crossings." According to the handbook, there are 11 different wildlife crossing design types, including canopy crossings, landscape bridges and amphibian and reptile tunnels. These animal safe havens are numerous along Montana's U.S. Highway 93, for instance. According to the Montana Department of Transportation, the pathways span 76 miles (122 kilometers) and include 81 crossing structures for fish and large and small animal wildlife.

Head farther northwest, and you'll reach Washington's Interstate 90 wildlife bridges project. Construction is underway on the Keechelus Wildlife Overcrossing as part of the Snoqualmie Pass East project, which the state hopes will improve wildlife movement and minimize environmental impact. The mountain goats, bobcats, otters and wild turkeys native to the forested region will have safe places to cross a 15-mile (24-kilometer) stretch of freeway when the proposed 27 animal crossings are completed. And elk, deer, bull trout and kokanee salmon are already using creek crossings, culverts and underpasses for safe passage under the highway.

On the other side of the world, Australia's Christmas Island National Park is home to tens of millions of red crabs that migrate from the forest to the coast, usually in November or December. This annual crab crossing is such a big deal that it's become a tourist attraction. As a result, the island has 31 underpasses and one crab bridge to keep the crustaceans safely off roadways.

And in case you're wondering whether wildlife actually uses the crossings, the 11 species of large mammals in Canada's Banff National Park have been recorded using wildlife crossings more than 150,000 times. 

Animals use this overpass to travel across the Trans-Canada Highway.
Animals use this overpass to travel across the Trans-Canada Highway.
Photo by WikiPedant at Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0