CHIHUAHUA, MEXICO (January 25, 2019) — On Monday, representatives of the northern state of Chihuahua in Mexico approved an amendment in the state’s Transportation Law requiring the implementation of wildlife crossings in the design, construction and maintenance of roads and highways for preserving wildlife movements.
State Representative Alejandro Gloria Gonzalez, President of the Environmental Commission of the State Congress, explained that by implementing this amendment, ecosystems would be protected.
“The impacts of roads and highways on the environment are undeniable,” Gonzalez said. “Therefore, it is necessary to generate strategies that mark a substantial change in the policies we have had so far. A viable and proven alternative is the construction of wildlife crossings.”
Wildlife crossings are built structures that cross over or under highways, providing safer alternatives for animals to cross busy highways in search of food, mates and shelter. Wildlife crossings help avoid the loss of biodiversity, allowing the free movement of species and minimizing the direct and indirect consequences of highways. In promoting this bill, the legislators quoted successful wildlife crossings in Banff, Canada as effective examples.
Juan Carlos Bravo, Wildlands Network’s Mexico Program Director, added, “We celebrate this action and hope other states will follow Chihuahua’s example of implementing these common-sense structures for the benefit of wildlife and the safety of motorists. Until now, legislation has failed to take into account that it is the nature of wildlife species to move, disperse and migrate, and animals such as the jaguar, black bear or white-tailed deer have natural corridors that cross highways, state lines and even international borders.”
The change in law is a big step toward improved wildlife conservation, but on its own it is still not enough, as most of the state’s largest highways are federal and not affected by the state law. Even on state highways, Transportation Authorities must first determine which areas are priorities for the construction of wildlife crossings. Federal and state collaboration is necessary in places such as the Janos Biosphere Reserve, which is divided by Mexico’s Federal Highway 2 and where unique prairie ecosystems face increased fragmentation.
Attached Images: Digital illustration showing what a wildlife overpass might look like on an arid ecosystem of northwestern Mexico. Author: Pedro Capdeveille.
Wildlands Network envisions a world where nature is unbroken, and where humans co-exist in harmony with the land and its wild inhabitants. Our mission is to reconnect, restore, and rewild North America so life in all its diversity can thrive.
Juan Carlos Bravo, Wildlands Network Mexico Program Director, +521 6621 87 38 10, firstname.lastname@example.org