Sep 27, 2022 - News

Wildlife crossings can save money by preventing car crashes, study finds

An aerial shot of a wildlife bridge over a large freeway, surrounded by evergreen trees.

A wildlife crossing over Interstate 90. Photo courtesy of WSDOT

It turns out helping wildlife cross the road is good for more than the animals. It also saves money — and potentially lives — by helping prevent car crashes, new evidence suggests.

Driving the news: Building highway crossings for wildlife appears to significantly reduce the number of collisions between animals and vehicles, an analysis from Washington State University found.

  • As a result, each crossing structure ends up saving an estimated $235,000 to $443,000 annually, the study found.

Context: Washington state has 22 wildlife crossings, some of which go under highways and others that go over them.

  • Animals such as deer and bears use the crossings to safely reach food, habitat and mating opportunities.

What they found: The WSU analysis looked at crashes within 10 miles of 13 wildlife crossings, discovering that after the structures were built, there were one to three fewer traffic collisions involving wildlife per mile each year.

What they're saying: "This shows there’s something we can do about these collisions," the study’s author, WSU doctoral student Wisnu Sugiarto, said in a news release.

The bottom line: The research suggests that the cost of building a wildlife crossing — between $500,000 and $6 million — is outweighed by the structure’s benefits over time.


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