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Efforts to create wildlife pathway in New York gain momentum

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  • Staff Report 

With an estimated 65,000 deer-vehicle collisions annually costing New York State approximately $40,000, a new initiative aims to reduce these incidents through the creation of a wildlife pathway stretching from Western New York to Canada.

The New York Wildlife Crossing Act, recently passed by both the State Senate and Assembly, awaits the governor’s signature. If enacted, it will mandate state transportation agencies to identify and develop wildlife crossing opportunities. The urgency is heightened by the potential loss of federal grants tied to the project.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

The project, known as the WNY Wildway, is part of a larger network called the Eastern Wildway, which spans from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. This initiative is crucial for wildlife adapting to climate change, as animals need to migrate to maintain their ideal temperature range.

Advocates point to the high number of animal fatalities on roadways. Recent research shows that once wildlife crossings are established, animals readily use them. The data collected will support applications for federal funding, with $300 million currently available through the Wildlife Crossings Act.

State agencies, including the Department of Transportation and the Office of Parks, are monitoring the legislation and plan to collaborate on implementation once it is enacted.