Large wild animals need space to roam, to find food and mates. Highways limit this space and can result in the slow “strangulation” of certain species, without mentioning the thousands of animals of all sizes that are killed simply trying to cross the road.
Actually, it’s far more than thousands. According to Scientific American, U.S. vehicles hit an estimated one to two million animals every year, the equivalent of a collision every 26 seconds. As a result, animal lovers around the world are urging their governments to incorporate wildlife passages into their highway systems.
Here in Jalisco, the first mention, some years ago, of an expressway bypassing Guadalajara caused consternation among many environmentalists. They had worked hard to create a wildlife corridor between Bosque la Primavera and the Bosque de Quila. The Guadalajara rock group Maná had purchased land in the Sierra de Ahuisculco between these two forests and turned it into an animal sanctuary now popularly known as Selva Negra. In theory, an 80-kilometer corridor had been created for animals such as white-tailed deer, coatis, lynxes, peccaries, jaguarundis, armadillos, foxes, ringtails and, of course, pumas — whose presence in these forests had only been discovered a few years ago with the help of camera traps.
The first fly in the ointment was the construction of the Circuito Metropolitano Sur, a four-lane highway running from Tala to Cajititlán. Fortunately, environmentalists convinced the road-builders to incorporate a lot of wide underground passages for animals. Then plans appeared for the Macrolibramiento, an even bigger highway essentially paralleling the first one and effectively rendering the biological corridor useless.