Turtles and other wildlife are at risk along Minnesota roadways.
MnDOT is collaborating with the Minnesota Zoo on a new research project installing small animal exclusion fencing. The fencing is intended to redirect turtles (and other small animals) to culverts and bridges where they can cross the road safely.
Blanding’s and wood turtles are listed as threatened species by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
A proactive approach to wildlife conservation will hopefully reduce small animal-vehicle collisions and prevent these species from becoming listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Reducing small animal collisions also improves driver safety. Hitting (or trying to avoid) a turtle on the road can cause significant damage and injuries to motorcyclists and bicyclists. It can also be unsafe for drivers to attempt to pull over and assist small animals across the road—especially in high-traffic areas.
Exclusion fences were installed along four Minnesota roadways this past year (Waconia, Highway 5, Scandia, Highways 97 and 7, Eagan, Highway 2) and will be evaluated over the next year.
The research project started in Sept. 2017 and is estimated to be completed in June 2021. The end goal is to develop a standard set of designs and recommendations for future installation along other Minnesota highways. Christopher Smith, MnDOT’s wildlife ecologist is the technical liaison leading this project.
Visit the MnDOT Office of Research & Innovation for project updates.