Safe passages

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Safe passages

Rocky Mountain animals will move as the climate warms. These corridors could give them an easier path. 

Migrating Elk.   Photo by Josh Metten
Migrating Elk. Photo by Josh Metten

 By Ben Guarino   Washington Post,   March 18, 2020  

 Graphics by Joe Fox and Lauren Tierney  



Long-haul trucks roar along Interstate 80, a transportation backbone  that stretches from San Francisco to just outside New York City. Traffic  is so heavy here that the state’s transportation department recently  counted a passing vehicle every 10 seconds, on average. 

This vital, four-lane corridor of commerce also threatens wildlife. It  blocks the ancient north-south paths of mule deer, elk and pronghorn,  creatures that embody the American West. Animals that try to complete  annual migrations, which their species have made for thousands of years,  risk deadly encounters with passenger cars or 18-wheelers. 

 And as the climate changes, altering where animals graze and find suitable habitats, migration corridors are more important than ever to their survival. 

“We can’t predict exactly what the impacts of climate change are going  to be, or what species are going to be impacted,” said Hall Sawyer, a  research biologist at Western Ecosystems Technology. “We do know one  fundamental truth: That if we can keep this landscape connected, improve  that permeability, they’ll be better off.” 

Wyoming officials and scientists have a plan: Build wildlife crossings  to preserve migrations. Bridges, tunnels and other structures — imagine  protected bike lanes, but for animals — can protect animals from hazards  like highways and help them navigate a warming planet. 

Continue to full article here and interactive graphics.