BSU Creates ‘Critter Crossing’ Project to Protect Local Wildlife
Northern Minnesota is well known for its natural environment, from its forests and lakes to its wildlife, and maintaining the well-being of these natural features and creatures is the primary concern of a recent project organized by individuals from Bemidji State University.
“We noticed there’s lots of critters that seemed to get run over by cars,” said Bemidji State University Sustainability Director Erika Bailey-Johnson. “So we got together one spring and tried to figure out if there was something we could do to try to help that.”
This resulted in the creation of the “Critter Crossing” project, a series of temporary signs meant to warn motorists of areas frequently visited by animals of all shapes and sizes.
“Students are taking on this project and it’s great that they can actually participate something that might actually make a difference in the community and help out the environment,” said Bemidji State University Professor of Geography Jerry Smith.
“It’s nice to make a real difference in the community and not just learning about something, or talk about it, or discuss it,” said Bemidji State University student Kevin Krantz. “You know, use your hands to make something happen.”
Now, the project is turning to the community in an attempt to decide where these sign installations should be placed in order for them to be most efficient.
“We can run analysis all we want,” said Smith, “but the real experts are out there in the field, that have lived here all of there lives, that live out in the country, that pass these areas daily, and we figured that they would be the best voices to really understand where these signs should be.”
Hopefully, this project will result in fewer cases of animal fatalities in the Beltrami County area down the line.
“And hopefully it’ll all come together this May, where we’ll have the locations, we’ll have the applications for people to be a ‘Critter Crossing’ sign volunteer,” explained Bailey-Johnson, “And then we’ll be able to see how that works for our community.”
The “Critter Crossing Project” has recently put out a survey, which can be accessed here, in the hopes of having community members provide information on where to properly place signs.