Stop Running Endangered Species Into the Ground

Target: Joseph R. Biden, President of the United States

Goal: Incorporate safe passages to help wildlife cross parkways and densely populated roads.

For centuries, humans have been destroying natural, forested lands to make way for our own development. One of the most notable examples–our roadway system–has fragmented the territories of wildlife more extensively than any other architectural feat. Road construction and expansion has transformed these territories, and has significantly impeded upon the resources and land of animals that once occupied these domains entirely. As a result, animals face more difficulty finding livable space, locating prey, evading predation, and pursuing mates. This loss is exasperated by human-caused climate change, and animals are being pushed further and further out of their native territories than ever before.

Many animals roam the sides of busy highways trying to find a safe crossing point before realizing no such thing exists and returning to their original fragment of land. In this way, roads serve as an impermeable barrier that poses artificial boundaries and prevents gene flow across landscapes, leaving animal sub-populations more vulnerable to extinction. Others, who take the risk of venturing out into the street, pay with their lives. In the United States, millions of vertebrate animals–some of the most common being squirrels, possum, skunks, armadillos, deer, cats, dogs, and raccoons– are killed in vehicle collisions each year. Globally, the number of animals killed in collisions is estimated at a minimum of 5.5 million a day, or over 2 billion per year.

Many of these animals are not equipped to deal with cars as they are not parts of their natural environments. Deer and raccoons, for example, don’t know how to react to the large, noisy objects that approach them rapidly and can only manage to freeze in place. Animals don’t always die immediately, and are left suffering in the middle of the street as they slowly bleed to death or are run over by more passing vehicles. Not only are accidents harmful towards animals, they can also cause physical injury to drivers, damage to their cars, and psychological trauma.

One solution that has been offered is to secure safe passageways that connect wildlife habitats on either side of a roadway or parkway, so that animals aren’t forced to cross an expanse of dangerous human development. Commonly used throughout Europe for similar reasons, these passages can either be built underneath or over road systems. These passageways should be covered in natural vegetation and other elements that make the animals feel like they are in their native environments. In Canada, similar type wildlife protective crossings have reduced wildlife collisions by 80%. Animals are quick to use an easier path if one is provided for them.

A few such corridors exist in the U.S., but more are needed to further mitigate the problem. We have taken so much land away from these animals, it’s time to give some back. Sign this petition to ask President Biden to implement safe passages for animals alongside major roadways throughout the U.S.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Biden,

Human development–specifically in the form of roadway construction and renovation– has contributed to extreme habitat fragmentation for the past many centuries. Animals that once roamed these previously forested lands freely are being pushed further and further back, as roads and highways serve as a nearly impermeable boundary between expanses of natural territory. Wildlife struggles now, more than ever, to find livable terrain, to forage or hunt, to migrate when the seasons change or there is a shortage of food, and to locate potential mates with the minimal resources we have left available to them. Many species have been reduced to sub-populations–with roads acting as a barrier between them–making these species more susceptible to extinction.

Roads also cause the deaths of over 1 million animals across the U.S. each year, and about 2 billion deaths per year on a global scale. Some animals are left with no choice but to cross these busy roads, and often end up paying with their lives. Animals are not equipped to deal with cars and trucks–as they are not typically parts of their natural environments–and don’t know how to react when confronted by large, fast-paced vehicles. Usually, animals that are hit by cars do not die instantaneously, but rather die a slow, agonizing death as they lay alone and frightened on the cold concrete.

Luckily, a viable solution has proven to yield success in places across Europe, Canada, and parts of the U.S.. The introduction of safe passageways that connect wildlife habitats on either side of a roadway or parkway has allowed animals to cross to neighboring territories without directly interfering with an expanse of dangerous human development. In places where these pathways have been secured, wildlife collisions have been reduced by up to 80%.

We are asking you, President Biden, to please consider implementing these types of natural imitation paths for animals across major roads and parkways, as well as roadways near protected areas. It is time we give back to these animals after having taken so much away.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Jason Pratt


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