Portland, OR—Oregonians strongly support policies that protect wildlife migration routes, build more specialized crossings at roads and highways, and conserve migration habitat for animals such as mule deer, pronghorn antelope, and elk on public lands throughout the state, according to a recent poll conducted by GBAO Strategies for The Pew Charitable Trusts.
“In addition to conserving migration habitat, this survey shows very strong support for reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions by funding and building wildlife bridges and underpasses where busy roads and migration routes intersect,” said Matt Skroch, manager with Pew’s U.S. public lands and rivers conservation program. “Oregonians understand the importance of conserving wildlife migration corridors throughout the state, a strategy that protects public safety.”
The survey of 700 registered Oregon voters was conducted between Feb. 12 and 18, 2020—before COVID-19 in the U.S. was widespread. It found that voters overwhelmingly support protecting migration corridors and increasing funding to do so, which would put people to work fabricating and building the structures. Each year, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) records about 7,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions, resulting in roughly 700 injuries and a few fatalities. In 2018, such crashes caused $44 million in vehicle damage in the state.
“The vast majority of Oregonians not only believe it is important to protect wildlife migration corridors, but they also support increasing funding to build wildlife crossing structures that facilitate the safe passage of migrating animals,” said GBAO Strategies’ founding partner, Michael Bocian. “People across the state welcome a wide array of proposals to protect these migration corridors.”
Specifically, the poll found that 86% of Oregon voters say it’s important for the state to adopt policies that protect wildlife migration routes, and 88% support ensuring that federal land managers maintain open corridors for wildlife to migrate on public lands. Further, 82% favor using special habitat designations to conserve migration corridors, 86% want the state to build more overpasses and underpasses along major roads and highways, and 75% support increased funding to build those crossings, which would sustain local workforces as well as reduce dangerous vehicle-wildlife collisions.
“Oregon’s wildlife is suffering negative effects from habitat loss, human disturbance, and development,” said Ken McCall, vice president of the Oregon Hunters Association. “Safeguarding migratory corridors and vital habitat while creating safe wildlife passage across our roads to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions requires many hands. We’re very encouraged by the public recognition of needed action in Oregon.”
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