Citizens in Maine hope volunteer observation program will decrease human and animal fatalities.
In only the second self-designated wildlife monitoring program in the United States, volunteers record what and how many animals they see on the roadways of Maine. Researchers then use that information to determine high impact areas and wildlife concentrations.
The data, which is uploaded by user’s online and then referenced in a user-friendly map, is hoped to provide valuable insight into where animals cross major highways. The Maine Audubon and the department of transportation will then take action to protect both wildlife and motorists by installing culverts bridges or fencing to allow wildlife to travel under over or around roads.
Last year in Maine there were six fatalities caused by collisions with moose and another 23 crashes that resulting in injury. Other animal accidents resulted in 7.4 million dollars’ worth of damage.
Wildlife with declining and sensitive populations, such as the spotted turtle and the black racer snake will also benefit from the study. Members of the program have identified 153 different species so far.
Picture by Denver 7
Even though roads and highways have obviously affected wildlife and their habitat for decades, the study of that impact is relatively new. California is the only other state to have implemented such a program thus far and it is now known as the largest wildlife study in the state. The volunteer system proves strength in numbers and also allows agencies to bypass funding issues. They study is used to show not only animal deaths and collisions but also illustrates roadways impact on the surrounding ecosystem.
As road construction and the encroachment of civilization into nature show no sign of declining, hunters and conservationists can both use studies like the one in Maine to ensure the protection of game and non-game populations alike while reducing human impact and injury.