Carroll Bill 'The New York Wildlife Crossing Act' Passes State Assembly

Legislation will save wildlife, protect biodiversity, and protect drivers

Albany, NY Assemblymember Robert Carroll (D/WF-Brooklyn) announced that his bill “The New York Wildlife Crossing Act” (A.4243/S.4198) passed the New York State Assembly today. It directs the State Department of Transportation and New York State Thruway Authority to identify sites along all highways, thruways and parkways in the State where wildlife crossings are most needed to increase public safety and improve habitat connectivity. The DOT will then create and make public a top-ten priority list of crossings.

Wildlife crossings help wildlife adapt to climate change and biodiversity loss by connecting habitats essential for wildlife survival and have been identified as a key strategy to mitigating the effects of climate change. This bill will better prepare the State to take advantage of $350 million allocated for wildlife crossings in the Federal Infrastructure and Jobs Act for wildlife crossing infrastructure across the United States.

Wildlife crossings are also important in preventing animal-vehicle collisions. In New York State there are 65,000 reported collisions annually with deer alone in New York and collisions with wildlife cost millions in property damage, healthcare, and emergency responder costs. Studies have found that wildlife crossings can decrease these collisions by up to 92% when properly designed and sited. 

This bill, which was sponsored in the Senate by Senator Leroy Comrie, has now passed both houses and will go to Governor Hochul for signature.

“I am proud to have sponsored this important bill that will help preserve biodiversity in our state while keeping both animals and car drivers safe,” said Assemblymember Robert Carroll, “This bill will set the stage for the State to access federal dollars to build out wildlife crossings throughout the State. I thank Senator Leroy Comrie and all the dedicated advocates for their partnership in seeing this bill through to passage.”

“This bill is essential for New York to receive federal funding from the Infrastructure and Jobs Act. There are roughly 30,000 reported collisions with wildlife every year in New York. That’s animal lives lost, sometimes injuries or death to New Yorkers, and millions of dollars in car damage, said Senator Leroy Comrie. “We are taking the action needed to access that $350 million to explore the potential for future crossings. Every wildlife crossing around the world has reduced collisions by more than 88 percent.”

“The New York Wildlife Crossing Act is supported by nearly 30 conservation organizations in New York, including The Open Space Institute, Scenic Hudson, Protect the Adirondacks, Hudson Highlands Land Trust, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and Catskill Mountainkeeper, and many more,” said Erin Sito, U.S. Public Policy Director for Wildlands Network. “These groups supported the measure with a clear message, ‘Our state's wildlife is faced with an ever-growing list of obstacles impacting their ability to survive and thrive, and roads are one of the biggest obstacles they face. Fortunately, we have the data, the technology, and now an unprecedented amount of federal funding available to help address this issue in New York.’ Groups urged New York State lawmakers to rise to the occasion and with the passage of the New York Wildlife Crossing Act in the Assembly today, our lawmakers have answered the call.”

“The Nature Conservancy commends the New York State Assembly and Senate, especially bill sponsors Assemblyman Carroll and Senator Comrie, for passing legislation that will improve road safety for people and nature by creating or enhancing road crossings for wildlife. Collisions between animals and motor vehicles are dangerous and frequent. This legislation will position New York to leverage new federal funding for transportation infrastructure improvements such as culverts, bridges, and fencing to improve wildlife habitat connectivity, which is very important for conserving biodiversity as our climate changes,” said Jessica Ottney Mahar, The Nature Conservancy’s New York policy and strategy director.

“The New York Wildlife Crossings Act is a victory for public safety and the moose, brook trout, and many other species that make our Adirondack Park so special,” said Kevin Chlad, Director of Government Relations for the Adirondack Council. “We applaud Senator Comrie and Assemblyman Carroll for their climate leadership. This is an important development in New York’s efforts to protect biodiversity in the face of climate change.”

"The New Wildlife Crossing Act signifies an important step toward reconnecting and rewilding New York's landscapes for the countless wildlife species killed on our roadways each year," said Renee Seacor, Carnivore Conservation Director for Project Coyote. "We commend New York legislators for taking bold state action to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and improve wildlife’s ability to move throughout the landscape."

“Wildlife crossings help animals move across landscapes and find the food and mates they need to survive, while keeping people safer on the roads. We’re grateful to Senator Comrie and Assemblymember Carroll for recognizing the need for wildlife crossings and ensuring that New Yorkers will benefit from them,” said Nadia Steinzor, Northeast Carnivore Advocate, the Rewilding Institute.