Study of New Jersey roadkill looks at how critters move, or don’t move, around the Garden State.

New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation, with 9.2 million people living from High Point to Cape May Point. Not the easiest place for wild animals to cross the road.

A recently completed five-year study by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Fish and Wildlife Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey examined 1,669 DNA samples collected from 33 different native mammal species statewide. rice field. Some samples were taken from roadkills, others from legally captured animals. Conducted by his 100 volunteers armed with scissors, test tubes and rubber gloves, the study found that New Jersey’s prolific developments (highways, roads, strip malls) spread and spread their genes. impedes ability.

“We hypothesize that carnivores like coyotes and bobcats may be struggling the most because they require a larger area compared to other animals,” the study’s authors wrote. “However, landscape ‘resistance’ also appears to be a problem for species with smaller ranges, such as woodchucks and cottontails. ”

The bobcats found in the study are almost exclusively present in the northwestern summits of the state, which have a lot of forest and mountainous terrain. For eastern coyotes, this study found that Route 1, which crosses the state from east to west, acts as a barrier to reproduction and spread of the gene pool. Animals on both sides of the road are more closely related than animals on opposite sides.

But deer, squirrels, and raccoons are well-adapted, and their genetics are less affected by state density. They eat garbage, sometimes build nests in attics, and feel completely at home among humans in both urban and suburban environments.

The opossums found in the study are the true New Jerseyans who have the least impact and roll with their punches. The authors state that the opossum taught the opossum new words. Panmixia “means that opossum genes are similar across states and are not affected by even physical distance.”

Changing New Jersey’s landscape to accommodate animal migration could include wildlife “tunnels” that allow turtles, salamanders and toads to travel between wetlands, according to the CAHNJ. Wildlife “overpasses” became more common in the West, used by elk, bears, and other large animals, but some of the first were built on the Watchung Reservation in New Jersey. Some studies have found that animals are still wary of using them.

Bobcats in particular need space to roam and are of considerable concern in New Jersey as an endangered species. They often walk as much as seven miles a day, spreading across Pennsylvania and New York before returning, according to the Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy created “Bobcat Alley,” his 400,000-acre corridor that spans two mountain ranges in northern New Jersey that are key cat habitats.

Some estimate the bobcat population in New Jersey to be around 100. There’s no definitive number for the state’s opossum population, but they can give birth to up to 20 babies at a time.

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