IDOT assesses potential impacts to wildlife and their habitats while planning and designing transportation facilities. To comply with the National Environmental Protection Act and other state and federal environmental laws and regulations, special studies and assessments are conducted, and coordination with state and federal natural resource agencies is initiated. Project impacts to wildlife are identified and evaluated and consideration is given to implementing practical measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate any adverse impact to these valuable resources. To accommodate wildlife connectivity and to increase safety to the motoring public, IDOT includes wildlife crossing structures such as underpasses, culvert extension, and fencing within project designs in environmentally sensitive locations that feature quality habitat. These measures not only reduce wildlife mortality and the number of vehicle-animal collisions but help to ensure that species populations remain viable. In addition, IDOT considers effects on area sensitive migratory birds during project development and evaluates the potential for habitat fragmentation.
IDOT is one of many state and local agencies, and environmental groups involved in the “Illinois Wildlife Action Plan.” This initiative was developed to address the particular needs of wildlife species in an effort to stabilize and reverse trends in declining populations. The plan can be accessed here.
Other sources of information about this topic include:
- The 2006 publication “Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects” is a guide for making infrastructure more sensitive to wildlife and ecosystems through greater interagency cooperation. More information on the “Eco-Logical” approach can be found here.
- “The North American Breeding Bird Survey” is a major landscape-level survey of the birds of North America. It is an on-going cooperative program sponsored jointly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service. The main purpose of this roadside survey is to estimate population trends of the many species of birds that nest in North America and migrate across international boundaries. More information can be found on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website or the North American Breeding Bird Survey page.
- The Illinois Natural History Survey website contains extensive information regarding all aspects of vertebrate and invertebrate species in Illinois. The “Inventory of Resource Rich Areas,” a watershed based land cover survey that identifies areas within the state that contain high quality habitat such as large tracts of woodlands and nearly one-half of the remaining wetlands can be found on the Illinois Natural History Survey Research webpage.
- Information regarding wildlife – vehicle collisions can be found on the Deer Vehicle Crash Information Clearinghouse webpage. This national study details the causes and impacts to wildlife-vehicle collisions. The site is a deer crash information clearinghouse that contains accident data and suggested countermeasures and strategies to reduce the number of deer-vehicle accidents.