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28 inform transportation planning and design processes, effec- and Canadians as possible, their numbers remained lower tive communication among stakeholders, and incorporation than natural resource professionals and Americans, respec- of plans and schedules for wildlife crossing options that can tively. The rankings were also influenced heavily by the high be accomplished by maintenance crews by simple retrofit of numbers of transportation professionals working for state existing facilities. DOTs and provincial MoTs. This is in direct accordance In ranking the research priorities, the different classes of with the job responsibilities of this class, and they are the participants exhibited more widely varied values than in their most appropriate employees for this continental survey. ranking of practice priorities. The top ranked research prior- This class had the most representation in the survey (n = ity, to better understand the dynamics of animal use of mitiga- 181), and as such, this employee class was the most influen- tion structures, was the top research priority for all categories tial in ranking priorities. For example in the research prior- of nation of origin, profession, and employers except for ities, the need for alternative cost-effective designs was those working for consulting firms who ranked it second. The ranked as first or second by only three employee classes, second overall research priority, to develop cost effective yet it was rated overall as the second research priority, in wildlife crossing designs, ranked first among those working for part because of the large number of participants in the consulting companies, and third among Canadians, state and state/provincial and federal employee categories who over- federal natural resource agency personnel, and university all rated it as the second highest research priority. The dif- personnel. Those working for non-profit organizations gave ferences among different classes of respondents were in part it a lower value of sixth. The third research priority, to develop accounted for when priority rankings were separated by na- wildlife crossing structure designs and guidelines for the full suite tion, profession, and employer, so readers could view the of animals, received a variety of rankings from the different priorities from these different perspectives. categories of participants, but was consistently in the top five priorities for all categories of participants. The fourth overall Conclusions and Suggested Research research priority, to develop state-based habitat connectivity analyses, was ranked within the top six priorities by all classi- The research team identified the top 25 priorities for fications of participants, except by those from Canada research and practice in the field of transportation and wildlife (eleventh), engineers (tenth), and planners (eighth). The fifth for North America. The results show a clear consensus among research priority, to develop a standardized monitoring proto- all participants on the top five practice priorities: col to assess crossing effectiveness, was ranked within the top six priorities by residents of both the United States and Canada, 1. Incorporate wildlife mitigation needs early in the DOT/ all professions, and all employees of state and federal agen- MoT programming, planning, and design process; cies. Every one of the top five research priorities was a top-five 2. Combine several animal-friendly mitigation methods research priority for all the professions with the exception of such as wildlife crossings, fences, escape ramps, and gates, the need to develop state-based habitat connectivity analyses, rather than relying on just one method; which planners and engineers did not value as highly as nat- 3. Use conservation plans and connectivity analyses to ural resource professionals. inform the transportation programming/planning/design The results of the ranking of research priorities show the process on where mitigation is needed and how it may be overall high support for the top three: to better understand carried out; the dynamics of animal use of mitigation structures, to de- 4. Establish effective communication and collaboration velop cost-effective wildlife crossings designs, and to develop among stakeholders; and wildlife crossing structure designs and guidelines for the full 5. Incorporate wildlife crossing options into plans and suite of animals. These and other research priorities can help schedules that can be accomplished by maintenance crews form a clearer picture of the areas in need of highest research by simple retrofit of existing facilities. attention. They also demonstrate a need to better communi- cate the results of these research efforts. These statements call for a plan of action. In Appendix A, the Statistical differences among professions' median ranking background and the next steps for these and all priorities are of priorities were significant for select priorities, but may be described. due in part to the tendency of engineers to systematically use Priorities for research presented a greater challenge for con- lower values for overall ranking while other professions sensus of opinion and were not as consistently rated by survey systematically use higher numbers to rank priorities. participants. In general, the top three research priorities were Priority rankings were also heavily influenced by the dis- among the top five research priorities by all categories of par- crepancy in number of participants from certain classes. ticipants. The top three most consistently highly rated research Although efforts were made to include as many engineers priorities for North America are:
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29 1. To better understand the dynamics of animal use of miti- example, the top five priorities can lead agency personnel in gation structures (such as what works and what does not) directing early planning for wildlife in transportation planning, and disseminate this information; help encourage the installation of suites of mitigation measures 2. To develop and summarize cost-effective wildlife crossing for wildlife, promote the use of connectivity analyses in trans- designs and the principles they are based on; and portation planning, and the development and use of alternative 3. To develop wildlife crossing structure designs and guide- cost-effective crossing designs. Researchers can see the need to lines for the full suite of animals in an area to help facilitate design studies that address our need to better understand the dy- permeability for many species. namics of animal use of mitigation structures, and disseminate this information. Additional priorities can help raise awareness These priority statements lead to the next step, which is to for the need for better communication among agency person- describe what is known, and how that knowledge can be built nel and the public, and help states to initiate standardized guide- upon. The intent of this research is to help inform mitigative ac- lines and methodologies involved in wildlife crossings and tions across North America that create a roaded landscape that WVCs. Organizations working at the national level may use is more permeable for wildlife and safer for motorists. For these guidelines to help direct policy initiatives as well.