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Keywords:

  • deer;
  • highway;
  • North Carolina;
  • Odocoileus virginianus;
  • underpass;
  • vehicle collisions;
  • video

ABSTRACT  Roads pose many threats to wildlife including wildlife-vehicle collisions, which are a danger to humans as well as wildlife. Bridges built with provisions for wildlife can function as important corridors for wildlife passage. We used video surveillance to record wildlife passage under a bridge near Durham, North Carolina, USA, to determine whether it functioned as a wildlife underpass. This is particularly important for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) because forests associated with the bridge created a corridor between 2 natural areas. We calculated detection probabilities and estimated the number of crossings as observed crossings divided by detection probability. We observed 126 crossings by >10 species of mammals. Detection probability was 42%; therefore, an estimated 299 wildlife crossings occurred. We observed 75 deer: 17 deer approached the underpass and retreated. We estimated sighting 40% of deer crossings and 92% of deer approaches. Thus, an estimated 185 deer crossings and 18 approaches occurred. As an index of road mortality, we conducted weekly surveys of vehicle-killed animals on a 1.8-km section containing the underpass. We discovered only 5 incidences of animals killed by vehicles. The size and design of the bridge promoted wildlife use of the underpass, providing landscape connectivity between habitats on opposite sides of the highway and likely increasing motorist safety. Thus, bridges in the appropriate landscape context and with a design conducive to wildlife use, can function as a corridor to reduce the effects of fragmentation.