A Moose Stole the Show: People and Wildlife Need Safe Wildlife Crossings
I can tell you “this just doesn’t happen.”
Conservationists don’t organize a press conference to bring attention to a critical wildlife crossing and end up causing a traffic jam.
Not even close (more than a dozen cars stopping along the road in Vermont is a serious traffic jam no doubt).
Moose Makes Crossing
The real star of this traffic jam (and press conference) was a beautiful moose that made a “timely” appearance along the road that we were drawing attention to at a press conference just a few hundred yards away.
People were pulling on to the shoulder to take pictures when they saw a local television station reporter and the film crew capturing some great film of this beautiful creature (the TV crew ended up being late for our press conference and we had no idea why they were late until we heard the story after the event ended, so sorry I didn’t get photos of this specific moose).
To show you that I am not stretching the truth, check out this great Burlington Free press article covering the May 18th event that starts with the true tale.
“Nearly a dozen cars were parked along a stretch of Vermont 100 about noon on Wednesday, their drivers snapping photos or using binoculars to eye a leggy moose grazing in a wetland a few yards from the busy highway.
By happenstance, state officials and wildlife advocates had gathered just up the road to discuss their efforts — and a growing partnership — to address the problem illustrated by the moose: the identification, protection and safety of critical wildlife crossing spots along Vermont’s roads.” (Burlington Free Press).
If the moose visit was not enough for us wildlife lovers, right in the middle of the press conference a friendly woodpecker started noisily pecking away a few yards away as if to remind us that birds also need connected wildlife habitat. Check out these great photos of a bobcat, woodchuck and deer using engineered wildlife crossings.
NWF Northeast Wildlife Corridor Initiative
All this excitement was packed into a wonderful press event where project partners, local community leaders, property owners and the public talked about one of the National Wildlife Federation’s Northeast Regional Center’s key initiatives called “Critical Paths”.
Speakers at the event included Patrick Berry, Commissioner, Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, Sue Minter, Deputy Secretary, Vermont Agency of Transportation, Jesse Mohr, NWF’s wildlife biologist and consultant, Jamey Fidel, VNRC, Forest and Biodiversity Program Director & General Counsel, Rob Hoelscher, Wildlife Biologist, Green Mountain National Forest. For some great photos of the speakers, click here.
The press conference was scheduled to highlight the importance of a key road crossing located on Highway 100 which runs from Interstate 89 in Waterbury north to Stowe, Vermont. See attached map (below) of the crossing.
Critical Paths is a model project that seeks to maintain natural wildlife migration corridors by identifying critical wildlife road crossings in the State of Vermont. Recently, we have targeted the landscape between the northern Green Mountains and the Northeast Kingdom. The project uses a combination of cutting-edge computer modeling and good old fashion on-site field work to determine where bottlenecks and impermeable crossings exist that can impede the free movement of animals.
We also had a great turnout of local organizations and individuals, including the Stowe Land Trust, Waterbury and Stowe Environmental Commissions, Green Mountain By-Way Committee and local business owners.
This project was made possible with funding from the Wildlife Conservation Society, Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife and generous donations for individuals.