Highways of Death
What is the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) doing to reduce the risk to travelers from wildlife crossing highways?

In addition to research projects on Highway 260 and Highway 93, department biologists met with engineers and planners from the Arizona Department of Transportation and their counterparts from 15 other states and three Canadian provinces.

Engineers, planners and biologists usually see the world through different eyes. The three-day "Rockies Wildlife Crossing Field Course" allowed them to pool their knowledge and advance the science of road ecology, which strives to minimize impacts of roadways to wildlife and ecosystems. Field course participants sought common ground, thereby building understanding and cooperation to make highways safer for both motorists and wildlife.

The field course included a day at the AGFD's research project on Highway 260, where researchers led by Norris Dodd are radio-collaring elk and studying how to get them safely across the highway. Several underpasses have been constructed to allow elk across, and reducing the risk to drivers. The AGFD's innovative research is of interest throughout the western United States and Canada.

Collisions with animals on roads cause thousands of injuries and more than 200 human deaths annually across the nation, at a huge cost. Coupled with direct habitat loss, blockage of genetic interchange, pollution and habitat fragmentation, roadways have created a largely unrecognized impact on wildlife. Fortunately, the problem is gaining national and international attention. Through its research projects, and by hosting workshops such as the field course, the AGFD is finding ways to minimize impacts of highways on wildlife.
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