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Student Research Projects

Use of a Designed Highway Undercrossing by Large Mammals

Student Samantha Porter, Braeden Miller '06, Michelle Rowe '06, Tara Redding
Faculty Mentor(s) Dr. Maynard Schaus
Department Biology
Course BIO 489: Research in the Natural Sciences

Abstract

The Virginia Department of Transportation designed a bridge along the new stretch of route 17 in Chesapeake, Virginia, specifically to minimize vehicular collisions with large mammals, especially black bear. This structure, which opened in November 2005, includes 12 miles of adjacent fencing, intended to funnel wildlife toward the bridge and away from over-road crossings. This structure was sited to facilitate wildlife movement between the Great Dismal Swamp and habitats along the Northwest River Corridor to the east. We are currently studying the effectiveness of this undercrossing using remote infrared wildlife cameras, in order to document its use by wildlife over time. Between Nov. 2005 and October 2006, we observed an average of 23.7 crossings per month by 6 different mammal species at the north and south ends of the bridge, including White-tailed Deer, Raccoon, Bobcat, Opossum, Red Fox, and Rabbit, but not black bear. We documented significantly more wildlife in raised and mulched dry crossing areas, as opposed to adjacent wet crossing areas. We also documented fewer animals during the winter months, with the most observations in April and Sept. We hypothesize that the use of this structure will increase over time, and we will continue to monitor its use at least through 2007.

Grants

Supported by the Virginia Department of Transportation

Conferences

Samantha Porter, Braeden Miller, Michelle Rowe, Maynard Schaus, and Bridget Donaldson. 2006. "Use of a Designed Highway Undercrossing by Large Mammals" Presented at the 60th Annual Conference of the Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Nov., 2006, Norfolk, VA.

 

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