This town in Wisconsin is doing everything to help its turtle population!
We don't often think about the dangers that turtles have to go through on a day-to-day basis but if they live near the highway, those dangers are very real. Perhaps that is why the Wisconsin Department of Transportation got together with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and came up with this innovative idea. Story via: Wisconsin Public Radio
The point at which Wisconsin State Highway 66 crosses the Plover River is a notoriously dangerous spot.
Thousands of animals attempt to cross the road at this point, with varied results. In 2015, 66 turtles were killed trying to cross the highway.
In 2016, the Wisconsin Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources partnered with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to construct a tunnel beneath Highway 66, hoping to cut down on high turtle mortality rates, reports Robert Mentzer for WPS
The tunnel, with Jordan Pond on one side and wetlands on the other, was a noble venture, but the turtles had no way of knowing it was a crossing point rather than a dark and potentially dangerous hole.
So Pete Zani, herpetologist and associate professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, installed aluminum flashing outside of each opening, which would reflect the sky and let turtles know that there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
Zani also installed grates above the tunnel to make it less shadowy, and a small cul-de-sac in a nearby piece of the fencing to encourage turtles who had missed the tunnel to turn around.
A great success:
Zani and his team found that in the first year after construction, 85 percent fewer turtles were killed on the road, and no baby turtles were among the casualties. In the last few years combined, only 40 turtles died, compared to 66 deaths in 2015 alone.
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