Legislators want safe wildlife passage across highways

Spain's Congress calls on gov't to establish safe 'ecoducto' highway crossings for lynx, other animals. Photo: Sergio B. / EFE

► Drivers hit hundreds of animals each year, 36 Iberian Lynx killed since 2016 ►

Spain’s congressional Commission of Road Safety and Sustainable Mobility has urged the government of President Mariano Rajoy to devise a plan to create safe ecoducto crossings via overpasses and underpasses at critical points on Spanish highways to minimize the amount of road kill of wildlife, farm and domestic animals by motorists on Spain’s roads each year.

In a resolution proposed by Podemos and its Equo green party affiliate, the commission voted to request the government to develop a list of highway “black spots” that are dangerous for wildlife and other animals attempting to cross the road and to come up with a comprehensive plan to create the so-called ecoducto crossings.

According to Spain’s DGT traffic agency, there were 351 motorist accidents involving collisions with wildlife or domestic animals reported last year, though some estimates of the annual total are much higher — the Spanish website compramostucoche.com puts the total number of annual road-kill incidents in Spain as high as 14,000.

In calling on the government to take action, Equo-Podemos deputy Juan López de Uralde drew particular attention to the endangered Iberian Lynx species, which environmentalists have been re-introducing into the wild with some success in Spain over the past few years. The day before the resolution was voted in Congress, another of the lynx was reported to have been run over on the A-4 motorway in Ciudad Real, bringing to a total of six of the animals that have died this year as a result of a collision with an automobile.

According to López de Uralde, 15 Iberian Lynx were killed in 2016 by motorists in Spain and the number rose to 21 in 2017,  the worst year on record for the endangered species on Spain’s highways. The resolution passed Tuesday calls on the government to construct the safe corridor passages over and under highways in order to avoid accidents and protect both animals and drivers from serious injury and death.

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