Dormice are endangered in Britain, and under European Union regulations, if you disrupt habitat by say, building a £90m road, you have to "provide appropriate mitigation." So the City council in Pontypridd, South Wales, built three bridges to get the dormice safely across the road, at a cost of £190,000 (US 292,000). It seems a small price to pay if you are disturbing the habitat of an endangered animal that was there first.
The Countryside Council for Wales notes that it there is a reason for all this:
"Severance of habitat caused by developments such as the Church Village bypass is a real problem for dormice. They are very vulnerable to interruptions to their habitat; this can lead to local extinctions. Measures such as the dormouse bridges are only required to cases of significant impact and again, it's a legal requirement to avoid or mitigate for this.
Rupert Murdoch's Sun newspaper certainly doesn't think much of the idea, calling it "a bridge too fur." They don't seem to like the idea of spending any money at all on protecting endangered animals when humans interfere. It goes on a rant about Red Squirrel bridges, toad tunnels and bat bridges, not to mention eel passes and otter crossings.
But do we have a responsibility here? Whenever I see a solid concrete barrier down the middle of a highway and road kill everywhere, I wonder whether we should be spending a little more and designing a little more carefully so that these animals have ways of crossing the road.
Opinions among the public, quoted in the Mirror, are mixed. Who do you agree with?