How wildlife camera data can change policy

Highway 2 in northern Sonora, Mexico is one of the major barriers for wildlife to move north and south in the Sky Island region. Due to this concern Sky Island Alliance, in collaboration with Wildlands Network, monitored Sonora’s Highway 2 with direct observations and wildlife cameras to document roadkill hotspots in 2016 and 2018. This was done to help inform Sonora’s Transportation Authority of the wildlife activity along the highway and advocate for wildlife crossings as this highly used highway underwent new construction 

As a result of the study using wildlife cameras we were able to obtain a photograph of a mountain lion crossing the road through an existing culvert, and we photographed wildlife species that we had never observed during roadkill surveys (mountain lion, spotted skunk, javelina, and coati). Additionally,  with roadkill surveys, we documented about 36 species, 4 of those being protected species in Mexico (NOM 059).  

This data inspired Sonoran Legislators and as a result, in early October of 2019, legislation to make wildlife crossings mandatory for roads in Sonora, MX was unanimously passed into state law by Sonoran Congress. This is the first state law of its kind and it means that roads like Highway 2, will have public policy to support the improvement of wildlife crossings. Read more about the new law here. 


Last week, our Conservation Biologist and GIS Specialist, Sami Hammer, traveled to El Aribabi Conservation Ranch in Sonora, Mexico to give a presentation on the methods we used to identify roadkill hotspots at a workshop for CONANP staff, organized by Wildlands Network. CONANP staff was thrilled to learn these methods and look forward to hopefully implementing a similar research study themselves. 

Sami Hammer © Wildlands Network