Students research wildlife corridor

The campaign for a wildlife corridor across Highway 101 south of San Jose is being led by De Anza College wildlife biologist Julie Phillips, director of the Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies.

Through the Wildlife Corridor Stewardship Program, dozens of De Anza students are “documenting animal movement with infrared cameras, GPS units, HP tablets and tracking techniques.” They can earn a wildlife corridor technician certificate.

Urban planners once assumed that Highway 101 was an impenetrable barrier. But the De Anza students’ research shows that this still-rural stretch — which includes the Coyote Ridge, Tulare Hill Ecological Preserve, Coyote Creek Golf Course, some homes, agriculture and the potential site of a Gavilan College campus — is the busiest wildlife corridor between the two mountain ranges.

The students’ work shows that deer, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and other wildlife drop down the mountainsides into drainage channels, then cross the valley.

Badgers, which have poor vision, can get trapped in the median strip. Tule elk pose a danger to motorists.

If animals stop roaming, the populations in the two mountain ranges would become genetically isolated, each confined to shrinking habitats.

The De Anza team has not proposed a solution yet. Elsewhere, a combination of overpasses and underpasses has helped animals cross safely.

As a long-term project, environmental studies students are assessing the feasibility of creating a Coyote Valley National Monument, including an Ohlone Cultural History Center and a science and education center.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON August 26, 2010

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[...] Community College Spotlight: Community college students are researching animal movement patterns to build the case for a wildlife corridor across Highway 101 south of San [...]

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