Stowe Area Association
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The Shutesville Hill Wildlife Corridor

Bear in a treeMoose September 1, 2016
Submitted by Waterbury, Vermont.

One of the intrinsic values of the Green Mountain Byway is our natural resources.  Wildlife and the habitat that supports it is an aspect of our environment that we treasure.  Sightings of wild animals ranging from the size of moose to salamanders become memorable experiences that enhance our lives and remind us of the importance of the diverse wildlife around us. 

Like people, animals need to travel across the landscape.  Some movements are based on seasonal changes, others in search of food or to find a mate. The “Shutesville Hill” area along Route 100, just south of the Waterbury-Stowe Town line, is one of the few functional wildlife connections where animals can move between the large habitat blocks found in the Green Mountains to the west and Worcester Range to the east. 

Wildlife movements are important for both individual animals and entire wildlife populations.  Movement and migration promotes the health and genetic diversity of most animal species.  Roads and development can make travel difficult for wildlife by fragmenting habitat into smaller units and creating expanses of land that are difficult or impossible for many species to cross safely.  Habitat fragmentation forces wildlife to move more often and for greater distances, leading to risky road crossings.

Photo credits:
Bear - Tom Rogers
Moose - Allan Thompson

Moose crossing signAnimals are more likely to cross roads where the land is gently sloped, near forests or wetlands, and where guard rails are absent.  These crossing areas can be dangerous for wildlife and motorists.  Being particularly alert and driving defensively in wildlife crossing areas makes the roads safer for people and wildlife.  These are recommended ways to reduce the risks:

  • Watch for movement and shining eyes in the road, ditch and shoulder
  • Slow down around dawn, dusk, and at night
  • Pay attention to wildlife warning signs
  • Drive defensively and reduce speeds
  • Brake first, know when not to swerve
  • Wear your seatbelt!