Nova Scotia Wildlife-Vehicle Interactions
Nova Scotia is the second smallest province in Canada based on land mass, and is located on the Eastern Seaboard with a population of 949,500 people (Statistics Canada, 2016). Primary transportation routes for the province’s citizens are the 100-series highways, which were primarily single lane until the last couple of decades. After concerns were raised regarding the level of safety associated with single lane highways, many 100-series highways were ‘twinned’ to improve safety (Jacques Whitford Environment Limited, 2005; Doucette, 2016). Expansion of the 100-series highways could increase road kill rates for reasons above and potentially affect local populations of wildlife.
Wildlife Road Mortality in Nova Scotia
Fudge et al. (2007) conducted road kill studies comparing mortality rates of a section of 100-series highways to those of secondary roads (trunk highways and urban streets) from Shubenacadie to Halifax. In Nova Scotia, highest wildlife mortality rates occur between June and August and lowest rates occur between November and February (Fudge et al., 2007). This pattern is likely due to seasonal wildlife activity patterns, because mammals native to Nova Scotia become less active or undergo torpor or hibernation during the winter months (Fudge et al., 2007). White-tailed Deer, Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmermann, 1780), American Black Bear, Ursus americanus (Pallas, 1780), and Moose, Alces alces (Linnaeus, 1758), are often of greater public concern regarding collisions because these are large mammals with the highest risk of causing human mortality.
Mainland Moose are endangered in Nova Scotia, making them a conservation concern, but White-tailed Deer and Black Bear are common throughout the province (Snaith & Beazley, 2004; Fudge et al., 2007). Collision rates are lower with bears then deer, likely because bears are wary of human activities, more so than deer (Fudge et al., 2007). The province reports an annual average of 2,079 deer highway mortalities, 14 moose, and 33 bear between 1999–2003 (Fudge et al., 2007).