My heart aches for the roadkill littering Florida highways as wildlife desperately attempts to move from one shrinking habitat to another. Like a mutated disease of nature, humans multiply exponentially, pushing out all other wildlife as we appropriate ever-larger shares of Mother Earth’s bounty.
It is the roads, perhaps, that represent the worst irony of this lopsided displacement. For it is said our highways were built on pioneer trails, which where carved from Native American paths, which followed the animals’ preferred route. We have stolen the natural wildlife corridors and turned them into uncrossable boundaries for wildlife as shown in this documentary about an expedition through Florida’s remaining, and reconstituted natural lands.
The worst offender is I-4, which slices Florida in half from Tampa through Orlando to the Space Coast. This ten-lane superhighway prevents bears and other species from migrating north or south to additional habitat. This isolates them socially and genetically, reducing diversity in an already declining population.
I have often fantasized about raised monorail highways that fly above the land high enough for animals to pass safely beneath. Recently I saw this image of a wildlife overpass – a land bridge for animals that passes over a highway
Some might argue that out segmentation of the environment reduces the spread of invasive species like fire ants. See this article from the University of Florida for more on that. I would counter that bridging habitats will help indigenous species to survive, thrive and migrate in response to climate change and other more immediate threats.
As other species go extinct and humans multiply we should remember that we are product of nature, just like the other animals and plants. We rely on them for survival and we discover new benefits all the time. Land bridges, monorails or some other kind of wildlife corridors will help to strengthen biodiversity and improve our own existence over time.