May 5, 2023
Planner – [email protected] – 813-272-5940
July 25, 2023
Wildlife need space to seek food, water, and find mates, and the larger the animal, the farther they roam to find needed resources for survival. As our population increases, interactions with wildlife also increase.
Wildlife crossings are underpasses or similar structures that allow animals to safely cross roads and provide environmental benefits. These crossings enable our road network and wildlife habitat to remain connected so people and wild animals can move about freely and safely. As a result of the benefits, the number of wildlife crossings continues to increase in Florida.
In October 2022, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) gave a presentation to the TPO Policy Committee on the I-4 Wildlife Permeability Study that identified possible locations for wildlife crossings in Hillsborough County and Plant City. Following the presentation, the Policy Committee directed TPO staff to help FDOT coordinate with state and local governments on wildlife crossings within rapidly urbanizing areas. Staff met with government agencies over the past several months and drafted the letter of support for wildlife crossings based on these meetings.
Safe crossings save Florida’s panthers, too!
When we cross paths with wild animals on the road, those vehicle collisions are life threatening to the people in the car as well as the wildlife. The first Florida panther death since 2003 occurred in Hillsborough County on December 1, 2022, due to a vehicle collision. Panthers currently travel in Central Florida as far north as I-4, indicated by sightings, tracking, and panther mortalities. These panther mortalities indicate that we face challenges and need solutions. Explore the Florida Panther Program and Florida Panther Mortality map to learn more.
Your TPO supports wildlife crossings, do you?
Wildlife crossings can help protect panthers and many other animals, such as bears, deer, bobcats, alligators, turtles, and even people! That’s why on Wednesday, March 8, the TPO Board approved a letter that supports wildlife crossings in Florida and initiatives to increase opportunities for more. Should Florida continue to build safe crossings for wildlife? Let us know your thoughts via email to [email protected]