Use Of Highway Undercrossings By Wildlife In Southern California
This study monitored 15 passageways under or around highways and roadways located near Los Angeles, California. The study found that a variety of species used these passageways to cross roads. Even though these passageways were not built expressly for use by wildlife, they were utilized, supporting the idea that building passageways, and fencing around highways to direct animals to those passageways, will be beneficial and help animals avoid being hit by cars.
“Roads, especially large highways, can have significant impacts on wildlife movement and survival. This is especially true for wide-ranging species, such as mammalian carnivores. Some of these impacts may be mitigated if wildlife can find and utilize passageways under highways. To determine if underpasses and drainage culverts beneath highways are used by wildlife as movement corridors, we monitored 15 such passages near Los Angeles, California using remotely triggered cameras and gypsum track stations.
“We found that passages were used by a variety of species, including carnivores, mule deer, small mammals, and reptiles. Many types of undercrossings were utilized, indicating that passages beneath highways, even when not originally designed for wildlife, can provide important safe avenues for animals to cross roads. For mammals of conservation concern, including native carnivores and deer, passage dimensions, surrounding habitat, and the extent of human activity were assessed to determine if these factors influenced passage use by these species.”
“Our results show that while many native mammals used passages beneath highways, the presence of suitable habitat on either side of the passage was a particularly important factor predicting use. For deer and coyotes, passage dimensions were also important and should be considered with the presence of suitable habitat when wildlife passages are planned or evaluated. To increase the likelihood of utilization and to help prevent animals from crossing road surfaces, we suggest that simple improvements such as habitat restoration near crossing points and animal-proof fencing that serves to funnel wildlife to passages, can facilitate animal movement between fragmented habitats that are bisected by roads.”