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Environment

Animals Spotted Crossing Nation's Largest Wildlife Bridge At San Antonio's Hardberger Park

LandbridgehardbergerPar_Deer_Provided.JPG
Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy
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A photo of a white-tailed deer was captured on the Tobin Land Bridge and Phil Hardberger Park.

Opossums, rabbits, deer and coyotes have all been spotted crossing the months old Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge at Phil Hardberger Park.

The species were photographed by staff of the Natural Areas Division of the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department which has launched a five month study of wildlife bridge crossings over Wurzbach Parkway.

"Wildlife have four main requirements for life: food, water, shelter, and space. And with increasing development, those necessities are becoming more and more fragmented. Habitat corridors like the Land Bridge, greenways, and greenbelts connect wildlife to suitable habitat, like parks or tracts of undeveloped private land. It is important for us to remember that plants and wildlife provide critical ecosystem services, so we need to continue to protect these corridors and undeveloped habitat," said Casey Cowan, Park Naturalist for San Antonio Parks and Recreation.

City officials said the bridge is serving the purpose it was largely designed for. Human visitors to the park can use it, too.

A study of wildlife crossings by the University of Natural Resources Conservation at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, recommends crossings be a minimum of 164 feet at the base and as little as 26 feet at the center to encourage wildlife to use it. City officials said Hardberger Park’s land bridge is larger, 165 feet wide at the base and 150 feet wide in the center.

Food, water and shelter were also built into the Land Bridge design.

Two water bubblers, placed at the wildlife blinds, provide a year-round water source. The trees, shrubs and grasses on the bridge are all native and attract wildlife searching for food. The vegetation also provides shelter, protecting animals from predators as they cross the Land Bridge according to a news release.

City officials said as the vegetation establishes, more animals are expected to use the bridge. Park staff will continue to monitor and track which species are crossing.

Learn more about wildlife in our Natural Areas with Casey Cowan, Park Naturalist:

More wildlife images from the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy can be viewed here.

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