Friday, June 14, 2024

Online Tool Creates Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Database

In December, Virginia was awarded $600,000 in federal funding to develop infrastructure to improve road safety with the hope of lowering wildlife-vehicle collisions. (Adobe Stock)

CHARLOTTESVILLE — An online tool is connecting Virginians with information on wildlife-vehicle collisions. The Habitat Connectivity Hub is the brainchild of Wild Virginia and offers a database about high-risk zones for wildlife-vehicle conflicts, and mitigation efforts.

Since Virginia is one of the top ten states where these occur, many groups are taking measures to keep people and wildlife safe.

Jessica Roberts, habitat connectivity director with Wild Virginia, said the Hub has several features.

“With the resources we included, they can literally go to these tools and zoom into their area, and they can see where the high wildlife-vehicle conflict is in their area,” she explained. “And they can also see if they have a lot of biodiversity corridors in their area, so they can know, ‘maybe I need to be more safe around these areas.'”

She added people can also use it for advocacy. In the future, Roberts is looking to make it more accessible, particularly in how to search for information.

Along with the state’s Wildlife Corridor Action Plan, it also looks at county-level projects to reduce these accidents. Wild Virginia will hold webinars on how to use the Habitat Connectivity Hub starting Feb. 6.

More information will be available online under the ‘Come to an Event’ tab at wildvirginia.org.

In doing this work, Roberts said the group wanted to combine wildlife-vehicle collision reduction with biodiversity conservation. Along with land crossings, the Habitat Connectivity Hub also looks at aquatic culverts. She added these are important for land and aquatic species.

“If a culvert is too small, too narrow, too dark, too elevated, it won’t allow for any aquatic organism passage, but it won’t allow for any terrestrial passage. We wanted to really create this holistic view of habitat connectivity,” she continued.

This information can help get better culverts developed to not only help aquatic wildlife but also land animals, since they’re more likely to follow rivers and streams in their environments.

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