Wildlife concerns in bill
As I drive across our state, I can’t help but notice all the dead wildlife lying on the side of the road. It’s common to see deer, raccoons, and rabbits -- but occasionally it’s a bobcat, bear, or eagle.
Michigan ranks fifth in the nation for most wildlife-vehicle collisions. As we continue to develop communities and the roads that connect them, this problem has worsened. The Federal Highway Administration estimates every year there are 1-2 million accidents involving drivers and animals on U.S. roadways. Sadly, it isn’t just wildlife that pays the ultimate price.
These devastating crashes cause 200 deaths and 30,000 injuries. Think of the families whose world is turned upside down in an instant just because an animal jumped in front of a car with little to no time to react.
Thankfully, there are ways we can reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions. For one, the bipartisan infrastructure bill in Congress includes investments in wildlife-friendly infrastructure – things like wildlife crossing bridges, tunnels, and culverts – which have a high success rate toward reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions. Another critical step is investing in wildlife migration corridors – linear routes used by fish and wildlife to move from one place to another in order to find sustainable feeding and breeding grounds throughout the year.
These places can include federal public lands, state and local properties, tribal areas, and private property, so it’s important to make sure all of these entities have the resources and capacity to conserve wildlife migration corridors.
Thankfully, Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow has helped lead the bipartisan effort in Congress to fund wildlife crossings in the infrastructure bill. It’s a great start that will undoubtedly save human lives, reduce damages and costs, and protect wildlife.