Wildlife Results: It Works!

(Read the most recent report from Arizona Game and Fish Department’s monitoring results here.)

The first to cross: a desert tortoise interrupted construction workers to use the wildlife underpass – before construction was even complete. Photo courtesy Jesse Espinoza and Granite Construction (2015).

Now that the Oracle Road wildlife crossings are finished, a 4-year monitoring program has begun to document all the wildlife using these crossings. Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) is spearheading the program, with collaboration from the Coalition and Sky Island Alliance. 

In April 2016, the AGFD installed 8 video cameras and 4 still cameras (all motion-activated) on the new Oracle Road wildlife bridge. They also installed 4 still cameras on the wildlife underpass. AGFD will also be conducting roadkill surveys, monitoring the movements of Sonoran Desert tortoises in the area of the crossings, and providing recommendations for the adaptive management of the structures.

On May 25, 2017, Arizona Game and Fish completed 4 weeks (16 survey days) of targeted road mortality surveys on Oracle Road. This is the first survey session in a series. During this survey period, the largest species found killed on the road was a coyote, located on the west side of Oracle Road, near milepost 83.5. Two live coyotes were also documented within the right-of-way during the survey. They found a total of 529 individual animals killed on the road during this time, including gray fox, gila monster, barn owl, quail, variable sandsnakes, western threadsnakes, diamondback rattlesnakes, long-nosed snakes, kangaroo rats, jackrabbits, cottontail rabbits, and round-tailed ground squirrels. The wildlife fence is designed to exclude all but the birds and climbing rodents. Wildlife fencing currently exists on BOTH sides of Oracle Road between mileposts 84 and 86, but only on the EAST side of the road between mileposts 82 and 84, which is likely why we are seeing a roadkill hotspost appearing there. We are working with our partners and nearby homeowners to close these gaps in the wildlife fence. 

AGFD’s complete monitoring plan can be found here.

All video footage and still photos courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Video footage of animals using the wildlife bridge

Still photos of wildlife using both the wildlife bridge and wildlife underpass


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Wildlife Camera Monitoring Project
The Coalition’s own wildlife camera monitoring project will supplement these studies, by revealing the number and type of species that are moving in the area that could potentially use the wildlife crossings. For instance, our cameras captured one photograph of a white-nose coati approaching the underpass from the east, but AZGFD’s cameras did not record it using the underpass. This information is useful to help biologists determine if any changes or modifications should be made to improve the effectiveness of the structures for certain species.

Learn more about our camera monitoring project, and see the photos, here.


Help us gather more data!

We need your eyes, too. Please report wildlife sightings on Oracle Road (alive or dead), and in the surrounding area in Rancho Vistoso, Sun City, and other nearby neighborhoods, bike paths, and trails. Share what you see on: http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/csdp-safe-passages