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Turtle-Safe Roadways

Don't mammals have enough of an edge?
  [vote for,

In the area of the world where I live, many motorists are involved in damaging and sometimes fatal collisions with animals, and thousands of animals are killed each year. Animals involved in these kinds of accidents include everything from bugs to bucks. One group of creatures mercilessly slaughtered by vehicles in the spring and summer are reptiles, turtles, in particular. I have always felt that birds and mammals had a distinct advantage on the roadways compared to their reptilian cousins. Mammals and birds have the metabolism to actually move out of the way in time to avoid a vehicle, even if their instincts do not always guide them to move in the right direction. Turtles, on the other hand, are much slower on land by nature. Roads sometimes cut across their migration and movement routes. Roads are also heatsinks, and attract cold blooded creatures, especially early in the day. A few sick bastards seek out these creatures with their vehicles and kill them for “pleasure.”

Originally, I thought about what it would take to make roadways animal friendly, but I think there are too many obstacles to prevent that from happening. Fences, enclosures, etc., are impractical, and ultimately detrimental to the animals. Fences unnaturally segment the open ranges of animals even worse than roads currently do, and animals that did get past any fence would essentially become trapped within the road area. Natural fences, like hedges, trees, and the like, provide some animal shelter and might provide some management of the problem (not to mention beautification of the roadway, purification of the air, and deadening of vehicle noise). However, hedges or other natural fences, would not discourage turtles from crossing roadways.

I propose three minor modifications to roadways which will greatly decrease turtle mortality. 1. Raise a barrier, 8-12 inches high, on the far left and right sides of the roadway. My first thought would be a concrete curb, smoothly finished, with grates for water drainage. Or, conversely, when building the road, build the road bed a foot or so higher than the surrounding terrain. 2. Every so often, along natural routes of movement, create an access tunnel under the roadway, so that turtles could cross safely. These would simply be drainage culverts, placed in the “high traffic” (that is, turtle traffic) areas. 3. Every so often, build flat concrete “sunbathing stones” for turtles, several yards removed from the roadway. That way, turtles and other cold-blooded creatures would have an alternate place to sunbathe than the road. The turtle-safe road idea is partly baked, I have been happy to discover, [links] but not the particulars, especially the idea of providing alternatives for how some cold-blooded animals use roadways for heating.

rogerdna, Jan 21 2004

Turtle-safe road http://www.lakejack...jacksonturtles.org/
[rogerdna, Oct 04 2004]

save them turtles http://www.dnr.stat...jun01/blanding.html
[rogerdna, Oct 04 2004]

Would this do? http://www.halfbake...20over_20everything
</Self promotion> [kbecker, Oct 04 2004]

Pseudo-Baked http://www.wilderne...s_island/detain_ci/
An implementation of a similar idea for migrating red crabs. [nick_n_uit, Oct 04 2004]

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       Tunnels under roads (as well as bridges over them) are plenty Baked, both for turtles and other endangered species (children, for example), and I'm not sure the barrier is going to help much (suppose a turtle gets over the barrier where some natural debris has fallen over it, then can't get back).   

       But I love the idea for turtle sunning stones.
DrCurry, Jan 21 2004

       To fix the turtle-stuck-on-road issue, I'd just make the curb one-sided. Describing it from the road outward: slowly sloping up, then a steeper slope downward. The tough balance would be finding a grade that turtles would be comfortable climbing down that they couldn't climb back up.
Worldgineer, Jan 21 2004

       Turtles can fall short distances without injury. Actually, it doesn't need to be a fence at all, if the road simply drops a foot at the edge. A turtle ha-ha, I think that would be.
DrCurry, Jan 21 2004

       The question would be: would they? I've got a long list of suspected failures in turtle evolution. However, throwing themselves off ledges is not a behavior that I'm aware of. Though this might work well for lemmings.
Worldgineer, Jan 21 2004

       In California, through the Mojave Desert, at least one highway (58 or I-40, I can't remember) has tunnels about 10 inches high, and 8-12 inch high fences along the length of the road.   

       I had always assumed they were for tortoises. What else could they be for?
swamilad, Jan 21 2004

       Sidewinders? Really skinny people?
DrCurry, Jan 21 2004

       Once I got started on developing this idea, I realized that the only really half-baked aspect of it are the sunbathing stones. Perhaps the real halfbaked idea here would be that before a road is built, studies of how the road may impact animal migration or movement be commisioned and actually used to help design more animal friendly roads.
rogerdna, Jan 22 2004

       Here (Ontario) turtles tend to get whacked when they are finding somewhere to lay their eggs. In places where there are a high number of fatalities, turtle nesting sites have been created. These are simply gravel beds put between the wetland and the road to give them a nesting spot before they cross.
lintkeeper2, Jan 22 2004

       Animal over passes are baked, but alot of animals are freaked out about using them.
SystemAdmin, Jan 22 2004

       Put this idea into effect, and many hillbillies will soon starve to death...
KLRico, Feb 03 2004


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