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UC Davis Study Says Animal Crossings Could Save California Billions

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Collisions between vehicles and wildlife in California are costing taxpayers.

A UC Davis report shows parts of the Sacramento region, including Interstate 80 and Highway 50 from Sacramento to Placerville, are hotspots for roadkill.

"We're blessed in California for having a lot of wildlife, but we also drive a lot of cars. So we're killing animals left and right," said UC Davis Road Ecology Center Director Fraser Shilling.

Highway 50, I-80, and State Route 49 were deemed hotspots by the UC Davis road ecology team for animal versus car collisions.

"Recently, I saw a deer running across the road that had a broken leg," said Sacramento resident Derek Bratton, who can't shake the image. "It is sad to see bigger creatures in pain."

So what's pushing animals to the area roadways and how do you keep them off?

Shilling says the problem is twofold. Not only are we building on top of where they live, but the drought is pushing animals away from home in search of food and water.

So what are the solutions?

"Wildlife crossings are bridges or roads, across highways that allow wildlife to walk from their summer home to their winter home, fencing the highways to keep wildlife off the roads," Shilling said.

UC Davis knows how to build the crossings. Now, they hope to convince lawmakers to pay for them.

"It's always tricky to convince lawmakers of anything, but the dollar seems to be one of the most rational basis of decision making," Shilling said.

Shilling says crashes have cost the Golden State roughly $2 billion over a five-year period.

"If you hit anything, you got property damage, and we pay for emergency response, insurance costs, we can apply a dollar equivalent to each crash. If the dollar value doesn't convince them, I don't know what else will," Shilling said.

Shilling suggests lawmakers pull the money from highway expansion for the animal crossings.

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