Parks Canada not considering wildlife crossings

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Barb Sweet
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A moose exits a wildlife underpass in Banff National Park.

Parks Canada isn’t pursuing wildlife crossings for either Terra Nova or Gros Morne national parks, The Telegram has learned.

“Parks Canada is always interested in exploring emerging solutions that could support management efforts in national parks,” said Peter Deering, resource conservation manager for Parks Canada

in western Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Wildlife crossings are designed to connect vital habitats and facilitate safe movement of animals across busy roads at specific locations. This has not been identified as a key ecological issue in Gros Morne or Terra Nova national parks.”

Deering made the statement in an email response to The Telegram regarding a scientist’s interpretation of the success of wildlife crossings in Banff National Park in Alberta.

Deering said Parks Canada Newfoundland will continue to focus on driver education and reducing speed limits inside the national parks “in an effort to reduce the number and severity of moose-vehicle collisions.”

On Saturday, The Telegram reported on the work of wildlife and transportation specialist Tony Clevenger, who suggested that Parks Canada, along with the provincial government, should consider the crossings for this province.

According to Parks Canada, 11 different kinds of large mammal use the wildlife crossings between  Banff National Park’s east gate and the British Columbia border frequently.  There are now 41 crossing structures in place along 75 kilometres of highway, six of them overpasses.

The crossings are combined with fencing.

Clevenger, who works with the Western Transportation Institute, has studied the results of those crossings for about 15 years and said accidents with elk — which have the most encounters with vehicles in Banff — have gone from 100 a year to a half-dozen as a result of the crossings and fencing.

The mortality of large animals on the highways has been cut by 80 per cent.

In a co-authored paper published in Ecology and Society in 2009, Clevenger and his colleagues estimated the effectiveness of 13 types of mitigation measures for reducing collisions with large wildlife such as deer, elk and moose.

The group’s research suggests a combination of fencing, under- and overpasses, and jump-outs or escape ramps (sloping mounds of soil that allow wildlife to escape a road corridor) have an 86 per cent success rate of reducing accidents between large wildlife and vehicles, whereas culling has a 50 per cent success rate and removing vegetation, 38 per cent. 

Seasonal wildlife warning signs have a 26 per cent success rate, according to the research.

Accidents involving moose were found to cost twice as much as those involving elk, and more than four and a half times those involving deer.

“The results suggest that there must be many road sections in the United States and Canada where the benefits of mitigation measures exceed the costs and where the mitigation measures would help society save money and improve road safety for humans and wildlife,” the research paper concluded.

“Mitigation measures that include safe crossing opportunities for wildlife may not only substantially reduce road mortality, but also allow for wildlife movements across the road.”

bsweet@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Parks Canada, The Telegram, Western Transportation Institute Ecology and Society

Geographic location: Terra Nova, Banff National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador Alberta.Deering British Columbia Banff United States Canada

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Recent comments

  • David Parsons
    February 04, 2011 - 13:01

    I think that highway crossings for our Animals is one of the best ideas i have heard in years. It would show respect for our wildlife as well as the people who travel our highways.It should be followed up ASAP

  • Cynthia
    February 04, 2011 - 12:36

    I believe that there is no price you can put on saving a person's life. They should build the under passes in areas, that are know to have a lot of Moose collisions. Look at the findings. With over/under passes collisions decrease by 80%, compared to signs alone at 26%. Think about how many people's life would be saved? It's well worth the cost. I know I would pay the extra tax for it.

  • Just a Visitor
    February 04, 2011 - 12:32

    You also need to consider visitors who are travelling through these parks for the first time. A few years ago, I made my first road trip from Port Aux Basque to St. John's. I was warned about moose - so I naively put moose whistles on my truck. I didn't see a moose, but not because of my whistles or my caution. I drove at speed limit through Tera Nova, while joking about the moose-vehicle count posted on the signs. I did not understand the seriousness of the issue, and "sort of" kept an eye on the tree line at the side of the road. The solution needs to take everyone who drives the highway into consideration. In hindsight, I really did like the security of having the fence along the highway like they did in NS.

  • California Pete
    February 04, 2011 - 12:24

    Now I have never run in to a moose area down here but I do drive at 140km on Interstate 5 and it has been done up your way when I visited NFLD on open long strethes of trans canada but I have also noticed that there are no fences along TC people don't slow down when the road is open so good luck in your driving no mater the speed one keeps, driving is a dangerus occupation at any time

  • Calvin
    February 04, 2011 - 11:36

    Topcat, the speed limit on the highway is 100km/hr. Try hitting a moose at that speed, it wont be pretty. For an individual to stop at 100km/hr would take almost 300 feet, and thats if they react within the first 2 seconds. Slow down as much as you like, cause if a moose jumps out at you inside 200 feet, you have to be travelling under 70km/hr to stop. Do you drive that slow? I doubt it. I agree, people should slow down if they drive 120 or 130 on the highway, but slowing down to under the speed limit is not going to prevent mosse vehicle colisions. It would probably save some lives, which is the main concern here, but we are talking about avoiding moose vehicle colisions, not making the damage a bit less significant.

    • Topcat fr Bay of Islands
      February 04, 2011 - 13:31

      Calvin, you are correct. The maximum speed limit on our highways is in fact 100 km/hr (or at least for the most part). What you fail to understand is that this limit is the 'maximum' speed you can drive under 'ideal' conditions. You should learn to adjust your speed to the conditions you are driving in. If your driving conditions include the possibility that moose could appear in your path at any time, I would suggest that you adjust your speed accordingly. You should also encourage your daughter to adjust her speed if she drives under those same conditions. What possible reason could you give for either of you not slowing down? Would you also tell your daughter that it is ok to drive at 100 km/hr when the roads are ice covered? You might think its ok, but I can tell you its not ok, and it would also be considered imprudent driving. If you feel your lives are less important than driving at the maximum speed limit then good luck to you and your daughter - You're going to need all you can get. Take my simple advice and SLOW DOWN. Drive at a speed you would be able to avoid a moose if one happens to cross your path or be in your path. If you feel you couldn't avoid one at 70 km/hr, what reason could you possibly give to continue driving at that speed?

  • Jan
    February 04, 2011 - 09:46

    Banff has it right, Gros Morne and Terra Nova have it wrong. People!! Is risking lives worth NOT putting in these measures for the sake of maintaining a more "natural" setting in the parks? I'd be willing to pay a couple of dollars more to stay at the campgrounds to help fund this. Perhaps this could be a great make-work opportunity for unemployed laborers. I cringe every time my daughter travels on the highway from Gander to St. John's, and I give her a stern lecture every time to keep a sharp lookout and not be in the park area after 3 o'clock. The trees are not cut back far enough in some areas of the park, the moose can jump out at any time and you wouldn't see them until they are in front of you.

    • jan
      February 05, 2011 - 16:58

      To Topcat: WHERE in my comment did it say that my daughter drives in excess of the speed limit or 100km/hr in icy conditions through the park? I can tell you that neither of us drive through the park like that. We both have experienced multiple vehicles passing us in the park because they think we're too slow. My comments were for the need for fences and brush clearing. Don't make assumptions.

  • Topcat fr Bay of Islands
    February 04, 2011 - 06:58

    Wouldn't it be a lot simpler and effective if drivers just slowed down. This is a question for anyone who has been involved in a moose/vehicle accident: Would you have been driving slower prior to hitting the moose if you could have your time back? If you honestly answer that question, you should also be able to tell us the most practical and cost effective way to prevent moose/vehicle accidents.