The new ecological bridge that enables wild animals to cross highways in northern Israel has already chalked up some successes, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority reports. The INPA has documented foxes, wild boars, jackals and other animals making use of the bridge, located near Kibbutz Amiad in the Upper Galilee.
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The wildlife crossing was built by Netivei Yisrael, the national roads company, as part of a 1.2 billion shekel ($318.4 million) project, launched some three years ago, to improve Routes 65 and 85, from the Amiad junction to the Golani interchange. Among other improvements, 27 kilometers of Route 85 were widened and eight new interchanges were built.
The idea for the bridge arose when the INPA discovered that gazelles and other animals that live adjacent to the kibbutz would not be able to move to other areas because of the highways.
The bridge – which hangs 6.6 meters above the roadway, and is 50 meters long and 45 meters wide – is covered with earth so that it serves as a continuation of the open, natural expanses in the area.
Initial follow-up by the INPA has revealed that foxes, wild boar and jackals are using the bridge. The authorities haven’t seen any gazelles yet, “But we know that in their case it could take a bit more time for them to use such a crossing,” said Dr. Amit Dolev, the INPA’s northern district ecologist.
Dolev added that the bridge’s lighting was also planned so as not to disturb the wildlife.
The first such animal bridge in the country was built by the Cross-Israel Highway Company over Route 70 near Bat Shlomo, south of Mount Carmel. The second was constructed over the Trans-Israel Highway itself, near Amikam and Givat Nili, in the vicinity of Zichron Yaakov. The INPA reports that in 2014-15, each bridge was used by at least 10 species of mammals, including gazelles, boar, jackals, foxes, porcupines and badgers.
Other such "green" structures are also being built or are planned. One, near the Shoresh interchange en route to Jerusalem on Highway 1, is under construction; plans for two more on Route 65, in Wadi Ara outside Haifa, have been approved.
The INPA is hoping another wildlife crossing will be built in the Yagur area to link the Carmel region to areas that are further north, but as yet has received no response to its request from the relevant planning bodies.