Monday, February 21, 2011

How Did the Bighorns Cross the Road?

This photo, captured by a remote camera set up by Arizona Game and Fish Department, shows a desert bighorn sheep crossing one of three newly constructed overpasses built just for them. U.S. 93 crosses right though their habitat, isolating the Colorado River on one side. Though a few sheep have crossed the highway in the past, many were too afraid. The population was split, making it more susceptible to disease and diminishing the gene pool.

The overpasses span the highway. They are paved with dirt and not connected to a trail or other roadway. They're just for the sheep. It's uncertain how or when or if the sheep will use them extensively, but early signs look hopeful. Desert bighorns are rare and endangered. The Black Mountain population, those near the Hoover Dam expected to benefit from the overpasses, accounts for a large percentage of the remaining population. Read more here.


kirby said...

I've always thought planting these wildlife channels in browse and putting in a bubbler would make more sense. A wary animal isn't going to jump at the chance to walk down a pathway with no cover whatsoever. Here in CA we've got some so called wildlife channels that look like nothing more than concrete lined storm drains, and surprise, surprise, they're not working. That's the problem with design by committee, I suppose.

Eric said...

I guess the trick with these things is to make them seem like part of the habitat. I watched a documentary on overpasses in Alaska that actually had grass and plants growing on top of them for caribou and other animals. I can't imagine any animals, particularly prey animals, would want to go into those channels you describe. I think their instincts would make them very afraid of those.