In the past five years alone, vehicle collisions involving wildlife have cost the state of California approximately $1 billion. According to a new report from the Road Ecology Center at the University of California Davis.
According to the report Published on Nov. 10, the California Highway Patrol recorded more than 44,000 wildlife traffic incidents between 2016 and 2020. The report also looked at the more than 65,000 traffic accidents that members of the public reported. California Roadkill Observation System between 2009 and 2020. The report found that mule deer are the most affected species on California’s roads, with at least 27,134 of the reported accidents, or about 61 percent, attributed to deer. Accordingly, it found that mule deer cause more injuries and deaths — and cost the state more money — than any other species.
The report also includes an entire section devoted to vehicle collisions with mountain lions and black bears, as both species tend to move a lot and often cross major roads as a result. Researchers found that about 302 mountain lions and 557 black bears were killed on California roads between 2016 and 2020.
While more black bears were killed by vehicles in the mountainous northern and eastern parts of the state, most mountain lion victims were in the urban regions of Southern California and the Bay Area. Interestingly, the report also states that these are the regions in the state where “mountain lions are socially important” and where “there is a great deal of interest in their welfare.” Of course, California is unique among western states in that it offers the strictest protections for mountain lions, and it is the only state on the west coast that does not allow hunting of mountain lions. the big cats†
The report was released days before President Joe Biden signed an accord $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill in the law, and it makes clear how important it is to consider wildlife crossings when investing in the country’s roads.
Of those funds, $350 million will fund a brand new program that aims to build wildlife-friendly road crossings across the country. Several other western states, including Utah and Colorado, have already had success in preventing collisions between wildlife by installing overpasses and underpasses that allow moose, deer and other large mammals to cross highways safely. California is slightly behind these states when it comes to wildlife-friendly crossings, but the state announced earlier this year that it would? reserve $61 million to build special crossings like the tunnel that was built under a portion of Highway 89 near Truckee.