“They need these large areas to move around and find resources,” Hillard said. “And then there’s the human security aspect. Hitting a 1,000 pound moose is dangerous.”
Wildlife crossings are more common in the west, Hillard said. In Montana, for example, the state’s Department of Transportation has constructed more than 40 wildlife crossings along a stretch of US 93 through the Flathead Indian Reservation, including a large overpass covered with grass for bears, deer, elk and moose.
Other wildlife crossings in North Carolina
NCDOT has also made arrangements for wildlife, although much less often. In the 1990s, at the request of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, it built two culverts under a new section of Interstate 26 northwest of Asheville for black bears. NCDOT then worked with the commission to design and construct three underground passages for bears, deer, red wolves and other animals under a new stretch of US 64 in Washington County, east of Plymouth.
In 2005, NCDOT agreed to build a taller and longer replacement bridge for US 15-501 over New Hope Creek in Durham to make room for wildlife, primarily deer following the stream. Ron Sutherland, chief scientist for Wildlands Network, said the group had studied how deer used the passage and, with cameras mounted on the bridge, had counted more than 2,000 in a single year.
“I think our data shows the 15-501 bridge was a huge success,” Sutherland said. “Thousands of people cross this bridge every day without knowing how many deer and other wildlife are safely moving underneath.”