Photo Credit: Jeff Burrell – Wildlife Conservation Society
Why did the black bear cross the road?
Actually, it didn’t—because it didn’t have to.
A motion-activated camera shows that the bear in question took an overpass—essentially a large, camouflaged arch—that gracefully carves over U.S. Highway 93 in Montana, just north of the town of Evaro at the entrance to the Flathead Indian Reservation. Thirty-eight more of these man-made wildlife crossings allow all manner of critters to take a safe route over or under the stretch of highway between Evaro and Polson, 56 miles to the north.
But do the crossings, the last of which was completed in 2010, work? Cameras in 29 of the structures show almost 23,000 crossings in 2015, about double the number from five years earlier, according to data compiled by the Western Transportation Institute, a research arm of Montana State University in Bozeman. Even more intriguing, scientists found through scenes caught on camera that some animals—deer and bear among them—were teaching their young to use the crossings.