The business website Quartz (www.qz.com) has published a feature article on the international use of wildlife crossing structures. “Wildlife overpasses that protect animals are spreading globally” discusses WTI Road Ecologist Tony Clevenger’s findings on the types of crossings preferred by different species of animals, based on his research on the Trans-Canada Highway. It also mentions Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament’s efforts to help countries like Bhutan to start using wildlife crossings to protect species like Asian elephants.
Interested in hearing Tony Clevenger speak on wildlife overpasses in more detail? Check out his radio interview from last week with Marcus Smith on BYU radio, entitled “Highway overpasses paved with grass, rocks and trees save lives.”
Ibis, an international journal of avian science, has published an article based on a WTI Road Ecology project in Idaho. “Spatial, road geometric and biotic factors associated with Barn Owl mortality along an interstate highway” studied the high rates of collisions between Barn Owls and vehicles on Interstate 84 in Southern Idaho. It stems from a WTI project on potential mitigation options for reducing vehicle collisions with barn owls, which was a collaborative research effort among WTI, Boise State University, Murdock Charitable Trust, Federal Highway Administration, Idaho Transportation Department and Idaho EPSCoR. Angela Kociolek served as the Principal Investigator.
Citation: Arnold, E. M., Hanser, S. E., Regan, T. , Thompson, J. , Lowe, M. , Kociolek, A. and Belthoff, J. R. (2019), Spatial, road geometric and biotic factors associated with Barn Owl mortality along an interstate highway. Ibis, 161: 147-161. doi:10.1111/ibi.12593
WTI Research Scientist, Tony Clevenger, presented his research on wolverines to the Bow Valley Naturalists in Alberta, Canada recently, resulting in a feature article in the Rocky Mountain Outlook. “Wolverine populations at risk without connectivity” discusses his study that found that the numbers of wolverines in southwest Alberta and British Columbia are much lower than previously thought, and that busy highways are one of the major barriers to species connectivity. Tony has conducted several wolverine research projects in the Canadian Crown of the Continent (CCoC) region between Banff National Park and Glacier National Park at the US border, in collaboration with both public agencies and non-profit foundations.
Smokies Life, the magazine of the Great Smoky Mountains Association, has published a pictorial feature and in-depth article on wildlife collisions. “Right of Way: Roads Need Overhaul to Decrease Collisions” includes an interview with WTI Road Ecologist Marcel Huijser about his 20 years of research on the effectiveness of wildlife crossing structures. The article also features a number of Marcel’s personal photos from the U.S. 93 wildlife crossings project in Montana.
WTI Road Ecologists Rob Ament and Tony Clevenger traveled to Kuala Lumper, Malaysia in April to present at the Road Ecology – Transportation Infrastructure and Wildlife Conservation Workshop. Co-sponsored by WTI, Association of Consulting Engineers – Malaysia (ACEM), ERE Consulting, the Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME), and the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, the main goal of the workshop was to encourage discussions between wildlife practitioners and engineers that will lead to innovative solutions that enhance both transportation networks and wildlife conservation efforts. Rob and Tony spoke on effective wildlife mitigation measures in North America, such as wildlife crossings, and how they may be applicable to large species in Malaysia, which include both elephants and tigers. One of the highlights of was a field trip to Royal Belum State Park, via houseboat!
The workshop also provided an opportunity to hold the kick-off meeting for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Asian Elephant Transport Working Group, under the auspices of its Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group. “It was our first face-to-face meeting and the 10 members put together a work plan for the next year,” said Rob, who serves on the working group.
WTI’s decades of research on wildlife crossing structures received a very prestigious “shout out” last week – a feature article by National Geographic. “How wildlife bridges over highways make animals—and people—safer” describes how these structures have led to major reductions in the number of collisions between animals and vehicles, specifically mentioning the structures in Banff National Park, which WTI Road Ecologist Tony Clevenger has studied for more than 17 years. The article also cites WTI’s key 2009 study that documented the specific costs of wildlife-vehicle collisions and the cost effectiveness of mitigation options, which was led by Marcel Huijser. Both Tony and Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament were interviewed and quoted in the article.
The National Park Service (NPS) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have partnered with the Western Transportation Institute – Montana State University (WTI) to develop a federal lands wildlife-vehicle collision (WVC) data collection system. This system is being designed to efficiently and effectively collect information on large animal – vehicle crashes, to address motorist safety concerns on federal land management agency (FLMA) roads, as well as carcass data of medium- and smaller-sized fauna relevant to FLMAs’ conservation missions. This project offers user-friendly tools to collect and manage data key for analyses identifying specific areas where measures may be used to reduce WVCs on roads in National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges.
Phase 1 of the project entailed developing “ROaDS” (Roadkill Observation and Data System) as a mobile device application (an “app” for smart phones and tablets) for collecting WVC data in the field. In this Phase 2 project, the research team will continue development of the application, by developing data standards and refining the data collection fields that will be incorporated into the next version of the app. The final system will help agencies identify and monitor locations where wildlife vehicle collisions occur, and facilitate the planning and implementation of transportation, conservation, and safety efforts on federal lands.
Project Title and Webpage: Federal Lands Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Data Coordination Project Phase 2
Animal-vehicle collisions (AVCs) are a threat to both humans and wildlife, and they have an economic cost to society. PLOS ONE has published a study by WTI researcher Marcel Huijser and his international research partners that documents the impacts of AVCs in São Paulo State, Brazil. Based on the findings, the research team estimates that there are 2611 AVCs each year, and more than 18% of them result in human injuries or fatalities. The total annual cost to society is approximately $25 million. The study also includes policy and management recommendations for reducing AVCs and enhancing safety.
Citation: Abra F.D., B.M. Granziera, M.P. Huijser, K.M.P.M.d.B. Ferraz, C.M. Haddad, R.M. Paolino. 2019. Pay or prevent? Human safety, costs to society and legal perspectives on animal-vehicle collisions in São Paulo state, Brazil. PLoSONE 14(4):e0215152. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0215152
Congratulations to two of our hardworking graduate students who have taken important steps over the last few weeks to earn their advanced degrees.
The Center for Health and Safety Culture’s (CHSC) doctorate student, Jubaer Ahmed, presented his Ph.D. comprehensive exam presentation on March 26, entitled, “Emotional Intelligence and Risky Driving Behavior.” His research addresses risky driving behavior among different populations from the perspective of emotional intelligence. Jubaer passed his presentation and will continue with the project in collaboration with his advisor, Nic Ward.
Matt Bell presented and passed his thesis defense for his Masters in Civil Engineering on April 3. His thesis focuses on “An Investigation Modeling the Risk of Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions in the State of Montana.” Matt’s research advisor is WTI’s Yiyi Wang and he also works closely with WTI Road Ecology researchers on projects including an international workshop on new designs for wildlife crossing structures.