The oldest roads we know about date back to around 4000 B.C., in the cities of ancient Mesopotamia. Over the last few millennia, humans have built countless roads; some paved with stone, some with bricks, some with wooden planks. As these increasingly complicated networks of streets and highways have emerged, they’ve come into contact—and often conflict—with animals.
Roads not only break up animal habitats, they add dangerous, fast-moving obstacles. Every year there are more than a million collisions between vehicles and large animals in the United States alone. As the dangers of roads have become more apparent, we’ve come up with ways to make it easier for animals to navigate these spaces.
The first road crossing designed specifically for wildlife came about in France in the 1950s. It inspired similar projects in other European countries. The Netherlands is now home to more than 600 wildlife crossings including the world’s longest ecoduct, the 2,600-foot-long Natuurbrug Zanderij Crailoo. There are more than a thousand dedicated wildlife crossings in the United States today, including large bridges covered in greenery and tunnels that offer a route below the road. These are just a few of the animal crossings that you can find all over the world.