Arizona’s Wildlife Linkages Assessment
The Arizona Wildlife Linkages Workgroup
Why the assessment was undertaken
The phenomenal growth of Arizona’s population and infrastructure—including construction of roads, railroad, fences, canals and urban development—has presented challenges regarding highway safety and conservation of our wildlife resources for the future.
- Vehicle-wildlife collisions cause human injuries, fatalities and property damage. Nationally, it is estimated that more than 200 human deaths and nearly 30,000 injuries, along with more than one billion dollars in related property damage, occur annually from these accidents.
- Vehicle-wildlife collisions cause wildlife injury and mortality.
- Vehicle-wildlife collisions pose a risk management issue for the state.
- The proliferation of roads, railroads, fences, canals and urban development is fragmenting wildlife habitat and potentially creating barriers that can inhibit animal movement and migration and isolate wildlife populations.
The challenge: How can we address this situation (and coordinate diverse jurisdictional agencies and interests) in a way that accommodates growth, helps make highways safer and helps conserve our wildlife populations?
: A similar partnership’s past success — The State Route 260 reconstruction project.
One impetus for the formation of the Arizona Wildlife Linkages Workgroup was the success of a different (and ongoing) effort involving multiple partners on the reconstruction of State Route 260. Using radio telemetry tracking of elk, underpass design research and fencing placement research, design measures have been implemented in an effort to reduce the chance of vehicle-elk collisions on parts of the highway while maintaining wildlife permeability. On the Christopher Creek section of the project, implementation of strategically placed fencing, designed to “funnel” elk toward underpasses, reduced wildlife/vehicle collisions on that section from 51 in 2004 to eight in 2005.