Migratory Routes Need Animal Crossing Signs
Updated: Feb 4
Animal crossing signs were not established in the United States until 1953 when Nevada decided to include a deer warning sign for their driver manual. By the 1990s, 24 states included deer warning signs. As the automobile became a more frequently used commodity and the need for roads and highways were needed for transportation, it was discovered that this growth had a catch. Motorists were having collisions with different types of animals around specific areas of roads and not others. Why was that?
Migratory and feeding paths for wild animals often cross provincial highways causing habitat fragmentation.Habitat fragmentation occurs when human-made barriers such as roads, railroads, canals, electric powerlines, and pipelines penetrate and divide wildlife habitat. Where a deer, for example, would normally go to obtain resources for survival, it is impeded by the existence of the road that prevents safe passage and increases mortality.
To combat habitat fragmentation road construction now includes wildlife crossings. Wildlife crossings are structures that allow animals to cross human-made barriers safely. Along with the Animal Crossing sign, this helps aid in habitat conservation efforts.
The Animal Crossing sign indicates to motorists that they are approaching an area where it is known that deer, elk, etc. Larger wildlife (i.e., caribou, deer, moose, elk, etc.) can be hazardous to drivers and have the potential to cause serious collisions. At locations where wildlife are known to frequently cross the highway, it may be advisable to warn motorists of the wildlife crossing hazard with an Animal Crossing sign. The Animal crossing sign consists of black symbol of an animal on a yellow background.
According to Carol Breen of the state Department of Transportation, as quoted by Times Union, "Deer-crossing signs are installed where there is a significant pattern of deer-vehicle crashes over a period of three years or more," she said. "Segments of highway can look very similar but have a very different crash history, which is why you'll find deer warning signs in one area and no deer-warning signs a mile or two down the road. Terrain can also affect where 'herd paths' develop, which will influence the frequency of deer crossing the highway."
The lack of a deer-crossing sign does not mean a doe, or even a bear, might not take a stroll there. It is always advised to be cautious and aware of your surroundings while driving a vehicle on any road or highway. However, we have the state of Nevada to thank for the beginning of the usage of the Animal Crossing sign with the invention of the deer crossing sign to help with driving safety to remind us to share the road.
Interstate Signways is prepared to assist you with your Animal Crossing sign needs. All MUTCD signs ship within 3 business days. We've got you covered on your next project for making your roadways safe.