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Bill to Build More CA Wildlife Crossings Gets Hearing Tomorrow


Monday, April 4, 2022   

Between 2016 and 2020, more than 44,000 Californians reported hitting a wild animal with a vehicle. So tomorrow, state lawmakers will consider a proposal to build ten or more new wildlife crossings per year.

Assembly Bill 2344 would require CalTrans and the California Fish and Wildlife Service to work together on a wildlife connectivity action plan to identify places where wildlife culverts or bridges would do the most good.

Tiffany Yap, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said a wide range of species would benefit.

"Species like mountain lion, the kit fox, desert tortoise, but also deer," said Yap. "That'll help keep these species healthy while keeping drivers safer."

Tuesday's hearing is in the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife.

According to a study by the UC Davis Road Ecology Center, some of the deadliest stretches are where wildlife migration routes bump up against highly populated areas - like Highway 280 in the North Bay and Highway 395 near Lake Tahoe.

Yap said the same study estimates these collisions cost about $1 billion related to deaths, injuries and property damage over that four-year timeframe.

"But that doesn't include a lot of the unreported wildlife-vehicle collisions," said Yap. "In some places, we've seen three to 10 times higher roadkill rates compared to what's actually reported."

UC Davis collects a lot of data on vehicle-wildlife collisions every year, but it may not tell the whole story. This bill would require agencies around the state to systematically collect and report the data.

The money for the studies and crossings would come from the state transportation budget, existing mitigation programs, and the federal infrastructure bill.

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