With spring migration underway, thousands of mule deer, antelope and elk traverse hundreds of miles as they transition from their winter ranges. Because migration routes are instinctual, they are passed down from mother to young. In fact, in Nevada, biologists discovered that animals have changed these historic routes to incorporate wildlife crossings and other safety measures, showing that human intervention into migration route safety can be positive.
The Pew Charitable Trusts recently polled Oregonians between Feb. 12 and 18 and discovered that 86% are in favor of protecting wildlife migration routes across the state. Supporters are also in favor of building “more specialized crossings at roads and highways” as well as conserving migration habitat on public lands throughout the state.
“In addition to conserving migration habitat, this survey shows very strong support for reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions by funding and building wildlife bridges and underpasses where busy roads and migration routes intersect,” said Matt Skroch, manager with Pew’s U.S. public lands and rivers conservation program. “Oregonians understand the importance of conserving wildlife migration corridors throughout the state, a strategy that protects public safety.”
Creating safer passage within key migration corridors would help decrease wildlife-vehicle collisions. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, roughly 7,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions occur each year, resulting in about 700 injuries and, even, some fatalities. In 2018, these crashes cost the state $44 million.
“The vast majority of Oregonians not only believe it is important to protect wildlife migration corridors, but they also support increasing funding to build wildlife crossing structures that facilitate the safe passage of migrating animals,” said Michael Bocian, founding partner of GBAO Strategies, which conducted the poll on behalf of Pew. “People across the state welcome a wide array of proposals to protect these migration corridors.”
According to Pew, the poll found that:
“Oregon’s wildlife is suffering negative effects from habitat loss, human disturbance, and development,” said Ken McCall, vice president of the Oregon Hunters Association. “Safeguarding migratory corridors and vital habitat while creating safe wildlife passage across our roads to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions requires many hands. We’re very encouraged by the public recognition of needed action in Oregon.”
86% of Oregon voters say the state should adopt policies to protect wildlife migration corridors.
88% support guaranteeing that “federal land managers maintain open corridors for wildlife to migrate on public lands.”
82% say that there should be special habitat designations for migration corridors.
86% want the creation of more overpasses and underpasses for safe crossing along major roads and highways.
75% back “increased funding to build those crossings” in order to pay local workers to complete the projects.