A decade-long study has found a portion of Interstate 280 to be the deadliest highway for animals in California, a report shows. 

The study was completed by the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis and was based on over 44,000 California Highway Patrol traffic incidents involving animals, and more than 65,000 citizens reports between 2009 and 2020, reported CBS San Francisco.

As part of the study, the center mapped out 15,000 miles of state roadways to determine which roadways were most likely to host wildlife-vehicle collisions. The collisions included species such as mountain lions, bighorn sheep, squirrels, birds, lizards, and more. 

I-280 between San Bruno and Cupertino was found to be the deadliest stretch of highway for animals, and five of the 20 ‘hot spots’ for vehicle-animal collisions appear on this highway in general. These collisions cost the state of California about $5.8 million per year – an average of $178,400 per year in damage and cleanup costs. 

“These findings illustrate the tip of the iceberg of ecological and economic impacts that wildlife-vehicle collisions cause for California,” said Fraser Shilling, the study’s lead author. “We need the Legislature to step in and help the good folks in transportation to fence the conflict hot spots and build many more wildlife crossings.”

Wildlife crossings are land bridges built over roadways to allow for animals to cross highways safely – a concept that is already expected to go into effect in Southern California next year with the building of what is currently considered one of the world’s largest wildlife crossings over Highway 101 northwest of Los Angeles. 

“The advantages to building more wildlife crossings couldn’t be more obvious. They help make roads safer for drivers and passengers while giving animals a way to roam and thrive,” said Tiffany Yap, senior scientist and wildlife connectivity advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity.

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