The road to recovery

Wildlife ecopassages in Bruce Peninsula National ParkFootnote *

What’s the issue?

A small metal amphibian passageway under a road. An ecopassage and deflection fencing designed to reduce reptile and amphibian roadkill. Photo: © Tricia Stinnissen

When frogs, salamanders, turtles and snakes try crossing busy roads, they often don’t make it to the other side. Small and slow-moving, they’re especially vulnerable to becoming roadkill – a common problem where these creatures move between habitats like wetlands and nesting grounds. Traffic mortality is a leading cause of decline for reptile and amphibian populations. Bruce Peninsula National Park is determined to solve the problem by identifying movement hotspots and building ecopassage underpasses for wildlife – including endangered snapping turtles and Massasauga rattlesnakes. Eliminating gruesome hotspots will help restore critical populations and conserve the diversity of wildlife on the Bruce Peninsula.

What’s our approach?

  • Install deflection fencing to direct wildlife toward ecopassages and improve their effectiveness at reducing roadkill.
  • Design and install improved ecopassages and deflection fencing at newly identified roadkill hotspots.
  • Create artificial nest habitat in strategic locations to reduce the need for females (and hatchlings) to cross roads and risk injury or mortality.
  • Design and initiate a monitoring protocol to evaluate the effectiveness of deflection fencing and ecopassages.
  • Seek volunteers to help with restoration work and develop a citizen science turtle monitoring program to foster a connection among local residents and visitors.
  • Educate visitors and local residents about the Massasauga rattlesnake to change perceptions, reduce persecution and enhance stewardship.

What’s been accomplished?

  • Engaged student volunteers from the local Outers Club to help install deflection fencing at hotspots along Dorcas Bay Road.
  • Installed more than 1 km of deflection fencing on either side of five existing ecopassages and prepared designs for two new, larger ecopassages at roadkill hotspots.
  • Completed four artificial nesting sites for turtles, and developed plans for four more to be installed in 2018.
  • Developed a citizen science turtle monitoring program for launch in 2018.
  • Connected with Canadians using social media and the internet to share information about road ecology, ecopassages, artificial turtle nests and hatchling turtles.

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