Guidelines and standards exist in other provinces and countries. We need to be incorporating collision-mitigation guidelines now in Nova Scotia as we twin numerous sections of highways. Some of the mitigation methods we need to see (much) more of as we twin our highways and build new roads include: wildlife warning signage and fencing (with monitored endpoints), underpasses, culvert shelves, median barriers that enable the movement of wildlife and don’t trap them in the middle (I saw four animals dead in the median next to the Jersey barriers on the edge of Halifax last week — concrete barriers that give wildlife zero chance of crossing roads), bridges that are wide enough to facilitate safe wildlife movement, species specific aquatic wildlife crossings, and lower speed limits in high collision areas.
As citizens, we can become informed about collision prevention, and we can ask for more crossing signage where we know it is needed (collision data collection helps to verify these), and for more collision-mitigation infrastructure as new roads are built. The Turtle Patrol out of Halifax is doing good work, bringing attention to the need for turtle crossings and signage in high-collision areas. We are working with them and other partners and our government to encourage wildlife crossing signs and collision mitigation for a range of species that need — and deserve — adequate data collection and corresponding infrastructure development that ensures their safe passage across, or under, roads at the same time we humans build our own.
Finally, counterintuitively, collisions with wildlife will increase over the next couple of months — especially with deer. Deer are on the move (some with little ones in tow), baby turtles are making their way into the world, and other species are busy preparing for migration and winter.
Driving aware of animals’ need to move, and the likelihood of seeing them, is a key piece of what you can do to reduce collisions. For more tips on preventing collisions with wildlife and what to do if you are in a collision, go to our website or get in touch.
Wanda Baxter, M. Env. Design, is the Program Manager for Watch for Wildlife. She lives in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia.