Canadian parkway proves deadly for at-risk species

"There has to be a higher level of interest in this problem," researcher Lyn Garrah said.

By Brooks Hays

KINGSTON, Ontario, July 31 (UPI) -- Roadkill on Ontario's 1000 Islands Parkway is quite common. According to a new study, some 16,000 vertebrates were killed by motor vehicles on a 23-mile stretch of highway over the course of seven months.

Between April and October of 2014, researchers at Queens University documented the death toll. Included among the 16,000 animal fatalities were frogs, snakes, birds, mammals and turtles. Many of the killed animals were at-risk species. Some of the squashed snakes and turtles were classified as endangered.


"I was surprised by the numbers," Queens researcher Ryan Danby, lead author of a new Environmental Management study, said in a press release. "We did a comparison with similar studies and found our numbers were higher than the average road. What we learned is roads are having a huge impact on wildlife, particularly endangered species in the Frontenac Arch. That is very concerning."

Danby and his colleagues says the volume of wildlife exposed the dangers of the 1000 Islands Parkway is substantial due to the fact that the thoroughfare divides the wilderness and resources of Algonquin Provincial Park from the Adirondacks.


"The analysis sheds light on several important things to consider when implementing strategies for reducing wildlife road mortality including under passages, fencing, signage and traffic calming measures," Danby explained. "We want to create eco passages to create safe places for wildlife, and documenting hot spots along the roadway and peak times for travel is important."

But Darby's research partner, graduate student Lyn Garrah, says the government isn't under enough pressure from constituents to take action. Without pressure, officials are unlikely to greenlight the kinds of solutions Danby mentions.

"There has to be a higher level of interest in this problem," Garrah said. "We need local groups to speak to government officials and the government to take an interest in this. The missing piece of the puzzle is funding."

In the U.S., the Federal Highway Administration says at least 21 endangered species are at serious risk of death by automobile collision.

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