Utah officials happy to see animals using wildlife overpass built above busy highway

Parleys Canyon wildlife overpass
Facebook

Instances of road accidents involving animals are becoming more inevitable with the construction of highways all over the world. To address this growing problem, Utah officials built a wildlife overpass that animals can use to go from one side of the road to the other.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources erected the bridge in 2018 over Interstate 80 to reduce highway accidents involving wandering animals in Parleys Canyon. Last week, the agency happily shared the news that the bridge is “working” by releasing a video of it in use.

“It’s working!” officials wrote on Facebook. “Thanks to the Utah Department of Transportation and Utah State University for monitoring the Parley’s Canyon wildlife overpass this year. As you can see, the 2nd year of this overpass has been successful at helping wildlife safely migrate over busy Interstate 80 and helping motorists be much safer as well. Please keep off of this overpass. Thanks!”

In the clip, the wildlife overpass is seen catering to a host of different animals such as moose, deer, porcupines, and bears. To make the structure more inviting to wildlife, the officials littered it with rocks, logs, and boulders. Instead of crossing the dangerous six-lane highway on I-80, the animals are invited to use this safer alternative.

Parleys Canyon wildlife overpass
Facebook

“A lot of concern from residents: there are so many animals getting hit by cars. Again safety is our number one priority,” Scott Root of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said.

Making this news even better is the fact that it was unexpected. State officials didn’t think they would see results this soon, since wildlife typically needs time to adjust.

In 2019, Utah transportation department spokesman John Gleason told KSL that it might take years for animals to use the wildlife overpass.

“We’re seeing results, and it’s an unexpected success to see results this early,” he said last year.

The Utah wildlife bridge is just one of the many of its kind in the world. Since the “animal crossing” sign doesn’t seem to work in preventing instances of vehicle and animal collisions, many governments are building bridges for them to use.

Parleys Canyon wildlife overpass
Facebook

Before, wildlife had no choice but to cross the freeway and put their lives in danger until these animal overpasses came into existence.

And just like what the Utah bridge looked like, the bridges in other countries are designed to blend with nature. Designers fill them with greenery so that animals feel encouraged to use them.

People have been building wildlife overpasses since the 1950s, and it was in France where the very first one was constructed. Since then, European countries have adopted the practice of installing animal bridges in busy freeways where wildlife was abundant.

In Holland alone, there are 66 passages built for animals. Among these is the Natuurbrug Zanderij Crailoo, the longest animal bridge in the world. It stretches for half a mile and is built over railways, rivers, and buildings.

Natuurbrug Zanderij Crailoo
Pinterest

In Canada and the USA, people have been building animal bridges for the last 30 years. Here is one found in New Jersey.

Interstate 78 - New Jersey
Wikipedia

Even smaller animals deserve road safety, too. This unique Nutty Narrows Bridge was made for squirrels.

Nutty Narrows Bridge
Flickr

In Australia, a bridge on Christmas Island allows migratory crabs to go on their migratory route every year.

Christmas Island crab bridge
ABC | Courtesy of Kirsty Faulkner

It’s great to see governments building bridges like this in their own countries! After all, animals deserve to be safe on the road just as much as we do.

Watch the video below to see the Utah wildlife bridge over I-80 in action.

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