How did the animals cross the road? Using these beautiful, innovative wildlife corridors.
True
Rocky Mountain Wolf Project

Animals in North America have a problem — they’re having a hard time moving around.

Migration is key for the survival of a lot of species. But in many places, developments like roads, highways, towns, industrial plants, or even entire cities form roadblocks that limit how far animals can move before they encounter humans in a potentially dangerous way. That's bad news on any day, but especially now that temperatures are on the rise. According to a study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, only 41% of natural lands in the United States are connected enough to allow animals to trek safely toward cold enough habitats.

“Wildlife corridors” are areas of protected land where animals can carve an uninterrupted path from one place to another.

Scientists have begun looking for ways to build these "habitat hallways" by protecting and connecting wildlife areas, granting animals safe access to wider swaths of land. In some cases, like that of the Flatland River Valley, that means identifying existing wildlife areas that could easily be connected and moving to protect the land that lies between them.

Flatland River Valley where proposed conservation would protect a critical link in the continent's longest-remaining wildlife corridor. Image courtesy of Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

In some habitats, conservation has to get creative — and the wildlife corridors that result are pretty cool.

Some wildlife areas are interrupted by just a thin highway, and though it doesn't take up much space, highways present a real danger to animals attempting to cross to safety. In Canada, architects solved that problem with a special landscaped bridge that allows large and small animals to safely cross the road. In Banff National Park, wildlife-vehicle collisions have dropped by more than 80% since these structures were built.

The Banff Overpass in Alberta, Canada. Image via iStock.

Another unusual wildlife corridor is the Bee Highway in Oslo, Norway. Airborne animals don't need continuous swaths of land in order to travel, but they still need places to land, feed, and rest along the way. So the people of Oslo went outside and built bee-friendly gardens and hives to provide the colonies safe passage through the city.

Marie Skjelbred went a step further, constructing a full beehive on the roof of an accounting building in Oslo. Photo by Pierre-Henry Deshayes/AFP/Getty Images.

As manmade wildlife structures are being implemented in the U.S., we're seeing a steep decrease in deaths among wolves, moose, wild cats, bears, and more.

Colorado's Highway 9 used to be a problem location for drivers and animals, reporting over 650 vehicle-wildlife crashes since 2005 in just a 10-mile stretch of road. In 2015, the Department of Transportation built seven animal pathways over and under the highway. Sure enough, there were just two animals hit by cars the following winter — a fraction of the amount from earlier years.

So far, Colorado's Highway 9 wildlife safety project consists of two overpasses, five underpasses, and a handful of widened shoulders and strategically placed border fences. Photo by Josh Richert/Blue Valley Ranch.

Highway 9 happens to cross an area of land that serves as a migration pathway for a variety of wildlife species, which is why it saw so many animal casualties over the years. The protections put in place were designed to allow animals to reach the opposite side without having to cross the actual roadway — but for those that wind up there by mistake, widened shoulders and "escape ramps" provide a route off the road, and fences prevent the animals from wandering back.

A herd of deer exit the highway via a "wildlife escape ramp," which is positioned to allow animals off the road and prevent them from re-entering. Photo by the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and ECO-Resolutions.

All around the world, wildlife corridors connect habitats and are the key to millions of species’ survival.

From the Terai Arc in India and Nepal...

Image via iStock.

...to the U.S. Highway 93 Wildlife Crossings in Montana...

...to the crab crossings on Christmas Island...

...to the Tsavo East National Park in Kenya.

Photo by Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images.

Animals of every size, shape, and habitat rely on humans to mitigate the damage that our developments have had on them by providing safe crossing to protected lands.

There are dozens of ways to protect and connect wildlife corridors to help animals survive rising temperatures.

Some, like the Bee Highway, are as easy as planting a garden in your community, while others like the Banff Overpass could help protect highway drivers as much as it protects the wildlife around it.

The problem of migration fragmentation is only going to have worse consequences as climate change continues. But we can help. Donate to organizations that help build corridors, like the National Wildlife Federation. Urge your representatives to support the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act. Look for ways to support the wildlife in your area, and plant animal- and insect-friendly gardens that will provide a safe haven for traveling creatures.

It's up to us to make sure that animals are free to roam wherever they must in order to survive.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less

In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.