© Photo courtesy Parks Canada/Western Transportation Institute/Miistakis Institute
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.”