We’re all for saving animals whenever possible. Whether it’s adopting from a shelter or giving a bee a teaspoon of sugary water. Doing your bit helps a lot, but sometimes things just need to happen on a larger scale. Think anti-poaching units, or outlawing whale hunts. Well, this town in Wisconsin is doing everything to help its turtle population.
The point at which Wisconsin State Highway 66 crosses the Plover River is a notoriously dangerous spot. Thousands of animals attempt to cross the road at this point, with varied results. In 2015, 66 turtles were killed trying to cross the highway.
However, the Wisconsin transport department decided to do something about it. The road needed resurfacing, so they teamed up with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to make things better for people and animals.
They came up with a “turtle tunnel” going under the road. “Turtles took a bit to figure out what to do, but even from the outset, some turtles went right through the tunnel while others struggled to figure it out,” said Pete Zani, herpetologist and associate professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
They have continually updated the tunnel to encourage turtle use.
“Post-installation improvements include a light-colored backdrop of sheet metal placed to reflect light into the tunnel as well as create a light-colored backdrop from the turtle-eye viewpoint,” he explained. “The passage rate is still not perfect, but better. The excluders seem to allow wildlife to escape from the roadway so fewer animals are trapped in unsuitable locations.”
What Next For Turtle Safety?
More improvements could be made, but not without significant expense. “We considered enlarging the tunnel or installing lights, both of which would help,” said Pete. “But both ideas were rejected due to site logistics as well as potential expense related to upkeep.”
However, the tunnel as it is is definitely working. Only 40 turtles have been killed on the road since 2016, far fewer than the 66 in 2015 alone! The turtle population and that of other animals will be thankful for its installation.
Let us know what you think in the comments, and share with your family and friends.
Images courtesy of Pete Zani, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Pixabay, and Flickr.