Road ecology blog: Multi-functional underpass (water, wildlife) and short section of wildlife fencing, US Hwy 89, near Dupuyer, Montana. Locals told me a grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) was seen crossing the road at or near one of the two fence ends. The fence only extends about 100 meters or so in each travel direction. Locals took that as an indication that the fences and underpass were not functioning and started to make fun of the underpass by attaching stuffed teddy bears to the fence.
While fences do help funnel wildlife towards safe crossing opportunities, a fence does need to end at some place, and wildlife approaching the highway at a fence end or beyond cannot be expected to benefit from the mitigation measures. However, short sections of wildlife fences (<3 mi) are, on average, less effective in reducing collisions with large mammals than longer fenced sections. Of course fence length cannot be increased indefinitely before another suitable wildlife crossing structure is required. Hence wildlife fences tend to be short, especially in multi-functional landscapes.
The "stuffed teddy bear phenomenon" illustrates two things:
1. We must formulate our objectives carefully, especially when mitigating short road sections.
2. Education and outreach are very important.
Click here for images of wildlife fencing.
Click here for images of multifunctional underpasses.
Click here for images of wildlife underpasses.
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