The National Wildlife Federation

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Connecting Wildlife Habitats

Wildlife move both daily and seasonally to survive. However, the habitats animals rely on continue to be fragmented by housing, roads, fences, energy facilities, and other man-made barriers. As a result, animals are struggling more and more to reach food, water, shelter, and breeding sites.

Canada Lynx

Today the need for wildlife’s ability to move may be greater than ever. An expanding U.S. population is bringing more people and development into conflict with wildlife and their historic habitats. And climate change is fundamentally altering landscapes, forcing many animals to relocate.

Habitat connectivity is defined as the degree to which the landscape facilitates or impedes animal movement and other ecological processes, such as seed dispersal. The National Wildlife Federation is confronting challenges to wildlife’s movement by improving habitat connectivity and providing safe pathways for wildlife on the ground, and developing conservation policies to ensure wildlife nationwide will always be able to get where they need to go.

Creating America’s First National Wildlife Corridors System

The National Wildlife Federation and its partners are working to pass the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act, a game-changing piece of legislation that could create a national corridor system in the United States.

As habitat continues to be fragmented and degraded by development, the need for a coordinated and comprehensive corridor network is growing. A National Wildlife Corridors System will allow wildlife to migrate across the country with the changing seasons, boost biodiversity in degraded ecosystems, and ensure species are better able to adapt to our changing climate. This system is an important and long overdue investment in the long-term health of wildlife populations.

A National Wildlife Corridors System will help connect protected landscapes, such as the National Park System and National Wildlife Refuge System. The corridors system will benefit all species, from carnivores like the Florida panther to insects like the monarch butterfly.

The following are examples of current and proposed wildlife corridors:

Enhancing a National Corridors System Through Wildlife Crossings

In addition to designating corridors across the landscape, the National Wildlife Federation also supports infrastructure that enhances and extends habitat connectivity. This work consists of building bridges over highways that block mule deer and pronghorn migrations, and creating culverts (pathways for water to flow under infrastructure) that allow turtles and amphibians to cross barriers safely.

Models for Connectivity

The following are examples of the type of infrastructure that can act as, or enhance, wildlife crossings:

Elk photo by Sandee Harraden

Resources 

Download the Fast Facts about wildlife corridors.

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