February 16, 2020

Tunnel under the street saves countless turtles in Wisconsin

Why did the turtle cross the road? Because he had no other option. It is not a joke but a sad reality for many. Sometimes we are so focused on our progress we fail to see what impact it is having on those around us or the environment we live in. As the famous song says “we paved paradise to put up a parking lot”. One of the most notable impacts we have had is that of roads and highways. We lay roads to cover every country in the world and it has a detrimental impact on the natural wildlife in the area. Thankfully people are now starting to think about this impact and introduce measures to look after wildlife in these areas. In Wisconsin, a tunnel has been built for the turtles to help them avoid crossing the highway.

turtle power
Source: turtle power

Highway 66 crosses Plover River a natural ecosystem for many turtles. In 2015, 66 turtles were killed as they tried to cross the highway to return to another part of the river. That is more than one turtle dying every week. The local transport authorities were not impressed and decided to act.

They decided to create a turtle tunnel. While spending our youth watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles might lead us to believe turtles love hanging out in tunnels and sewers, these Wisconsin turtles did not seem to realize the tunnel was for them. 

A local professor of biology was brought in to try and help out. They made subtle improvements to the tunnel at a low cost. Adding metal sheeting to highlight the entranceway for the little turtles. While it is not perfect, it appears to be helping. Since 2016 only 44 turtles have been killed on the same road. Far less than in one alone previously. 

This type of initiative shows how people still care about nature and the ecosystems we are interrupting. There are so many highways in this world but how many have access paths for local wildlife? Time to petition your local travel authority to put it in place.