Update (10/1/2022): Governor Newsom signed the Safe Roads and Wildlife Protection Act. Please send him a thank you email today!
September 16, 2022
California lawmakers are backing legislation introduced by Assembly Members Laura Friedman (D-District 43) and Ash Kalra (D-District 27) to help decrease wildlife-vehicle collisions with Assembly Bill 2344.
Depending on where you live, you likely have encountered wildlife perilously close to the road when driving. In some instances, you may have had a near miss or even collided with one. During these situations, injuries and fatalities can occur. The sad reality is that land developed to create roadways can cause displacement and disruption in the habits of the animals who live there. Roadways can affect animals’ migration patterns and hinder their access to food and water. Some states (Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming) have taken legislative measures to prevent these accidents and protect animals crossing the road by requiring the implementation of wildlife crossings.
These wildlife crossings are not just traffic signs warning drivers that animals frequently travel across the road in these locations. They are overpasses and tunnels specifically designed to help funnel animals safely to the other side of a roadway without coming into contact with a vehicle. These crossings play a valuable role in decreasing the number of animals killed by vehicles and protecting endangered species. In 2021, the University of Florida collected data to show the devastating role that vehicle collisions play in endangering wildlife populations worldwide. They also shared the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s report from 2020 that 85% of Florida’s panthers died from being hit by vehicles.1
Trail cams have captured many different animals using the specialized wildlife crossings in Colorado, the Parley’s Wildlife Bridge in Utah, and the Robert L. B. Tobin Land Bridge in Texas. These sightings show the effectiveness of the wildlife crossings, and hopefully, more states will join the efforts to live in harmony with animals to create safer roads for all.
According to a news article, California seeks to protect its wildlife with Assembly Bill 2344. According to AB 2344, “It would require Caltrans, in consultation with DFW and other appropriate agencies, to establish an inventory of connectivity needs on the state highway system where the implementation of wildlife passage features could reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions or enhance wildlife connectivity, as specified. The bill would require Caltrans, no later than July 1, 2024, to develop and publish the inventory and a list of funded transportation projects with wildlife passage features that address wildlife connectivity needs and would require Caltrans to update the inventory and the project list at least once every 2 years.”
Since its introduction in February 2022, several cougars have been killed by vehicles solidifying the need to create more wildlife crossings throughout the state. The Senate passed the bill on August 30, 2022, and it is waiting for the governor’s approval.
Take Action: Californians, will you email Governor Newsom today to show your support for protecting wildlife and creating safer roads? Click Here.