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Pa. House passes wildlife habitat protection measure

House Resolution 87 was passed by the Pa. House, and it will help better protect critical animal habitats throughout the Commonwealth.
Credit: WPMT

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — May 23, 2023, marked the day the Pennsylvania House voted 129-72 to pass House Resolution 87 (HR 87).

This bipartisan resolution will help to better protect Pennsylvania's at-risk animal habitats, including wildlife corridors. 

HR 87 will also help Pa.'s position when it comes to receiving federal money, as the Federal Highway Administration preps to roll out a new five-year $350 million competitive grant program to fund wildlife crossings.

"From the Poconos to the Ohio River Valley, Pennsylvania is a natural wonderland for a diverse array of native wildlife species," said Stephanie Wein, clean water and conservation advocate at PennEnvironment. "HR 87 will help ensure that - from the monarch butterfly to elk and from black bear to our state bird, the ruffed grouse - these incredible animals can call Pennsylvania home, now and for future generations."

Under the new direction of HR 87, the House Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) will begin to study and issue a report on the status, management and benefits of wildlife corridors. The report's estimated completion time is within the next 18 months.

The term 'wildlife corridors' is used to describe the broad number of different strategies utilized to allow animals the ability to safely move between habitats fragmented by infrastructure development. 

Wildlife corridors work to keep animal populations healthy by giving them more hunting, foraging, migration and mating options.

"Pennsylvania is home to a wonderful diversity of plants, trees and wildlife. HR 87 will help us look at how we can preserve that, as well as enhance our thriving outdoor recreation industry and provide for safer travel for people and animals around the commonwealth," said Rep. Mary Jo Daley (HD 148 - Montgomery County), who helped introduce the new measures.

The resolution will also help to identify key areas where Pa. should construct wildlife crossings.

Every year, Pa. is among the five worst states nationwide for wildlife-vehicle collisions: 166,000 animal collision claims were filed statewide from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021. 

However, building wildlife crossings, which include under and overpasses, will help to save both people and animals alike.

"Wildlife-vehicle collisions not only result in costly vehicle repairs but also injuries and even death to humans and wildlife," said Rep. Jason Ortitay (HD 46 - Allegheny and Washington counties), the other representative credited with introducing HR 87. "We should make every effort to reduce these incidents and conservation corridors are one way to do so. I'm hopeful this study will offer ideas to better use this technique."

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