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Keeping It Simple: Easy Ways to Help Wildlife Along Roads

Metal bridge poles cut seabird deaths by nearly 64%

Marine birds wintering in southeast Florida near Melbourne Beach fly safely over a high bridge across Sebastian Inlet at the juncture of Brevard and Indian River Counties, but that hasn't always been the case. From 1989 to 1992 roadkill surveys documented bridge deaths of at least 84 royal terns, 11 brown pelicans, two sandwich terns, and one black skimmer. Most of the dead birds were about six-months old - too young to judge safe flying heights. To prevent further roadkill of the migratory birds, the Florida Department of Transportation partnered with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to attach 122 vertical metal poles, each 9.3 feet long, to both sides of the bridge. The silver-colored poles were placed close together to discourage the birds from flying between them. Although a few of the poles were lost to tropical storms, hurricanes, and metal stress, the remaining poles successfully directed marine birds over and away from traffic. In fact, studies show the poles have reduced deaths by close to 64 percent.
 
--Apr 25, 2003

Alice Bard, (407) 884-2000 or alice.bard@dep.state.fl.us

Metal poles on Sebastian Inlet Bridge
Photo by Alice M. Bard, Florida Park Service
Sebastian Inlet Bridge

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On or Near Bridges - Florida
Updated: 12/12/2012
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