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Highways Are Cemeteries for Wild Animals

Posted August. 16, 2005 03:09,   


Roadkill Surging with only 14 Passageways for Wild Animals—

According to the Korea Highway Corporation and the Ministry of Environment, the number of roadkill was 105 in 1998 but jumped to 2,436 in 2004. Until June of this year 1,489 animals have been run over on the highways.

Of the killed wild animals, Chinese water deer comprised the most with 2,777 accidents, followed by 2,143 raccoons, 570 rabbits, 361 roe deer, and 276 weasels.

The reason for so many roadkills is due to the exceedingly small number of passageways for wild animals.

In total, there are 14 passages across highways in Korea: four in the highway between Daegu and Pohang, three in the central inland highway, two each in the East Sea Highway and in the Yeongdong Highway, and one each in the West Sea Coast Highway, Central Highway, and Daejeon-Tongyeong Highway. In other words, considering that the total length of the highways is 2,804 km, it equates into one passageway for every 200 km of highway

It is also pointed out as a problem that there are median strips in the middle of most highways, making it impossible for wild animals within the highway to cross it.

Increasing the Number of Wild Animal Passageways is Urgent—

After conducting research on passageways in seven highways including Central, Yeongdong, and Central Inland Highway in 2003, the Ministry of Environment concluded that in the case of the six passageways built as tunnels under the road, the animals were more likely to jump on to the highway.

“Passageways are usually set up where wild animals often cross, but there are many places where it is topographically impossible to build one,” said an official of the Ministry of Environment.

Lawmaker Lee Nak-yeon(Millennium Democratic Party) of the National Assembly’s Construction and Transportation Committee said, “Under circumstances in which their eco systems are cut off, it is very likely for wild animals unaccustomed to passageways to jump on to the highway. We should expand the installment of wild animal passageways and screens to make the animals use these passages.”

However, the position of the Korean Highway Corporation does not yet include plans to build additional passageways in the highways.

An official of the corporation said, “We are monitoring the movement of wild animals with surveillance cameras set up in the already constructed 14 passageways. We plan to create 48 passageways in the currently constructing highways.”

The Ministry of Environment plans to prepare measures for a basic plan for national ecological passageway establishment until April of next year, and to discuss with the Korean Highway Corporation to install additional passages for wild animals.

Tae-Hun Hwang beetlez@donga.com