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Please put the Geese Crossing signs back up - A letter from Melodie Robb

When Canada Goose habitat and Vehicles collide: how can these birds be protected? - A letter from Melodie Robb, Moncton NB

Dear Watch for Wildlife,

I want to share my story with you of the frustrations and some interesting facts I've learned trying to get the Canada Geese crossing signs put back up at the Moncton\Dieppe NB traffic circle. The fact that this area is considered wetland and was supposed to be protected and cleaned up as part of road building plans, and nothing has happened since 2013 when the environment report was completed shows a lack of concern for the birds and animals living in the area.

Is everyone just saying what they think people want to be hear and when they feel the issue is gone away they put it to the side? Is money being invested to develop the area? If so where is the money going? The beautiful wetland location in Sackville you can see from the highway is what I would think Moncton would be working towards. I cannot get an honest, straightforward answer from anyone. There has to be someone who cares about protecting the birds in the area. (W4W: Canada Geese are migratory birds, protected by the Migratory Birds Convention Act.)

The press has done so many stories on the issue, but again no one really knows who to contact to get the answers we need. Or should I say no one has enough interest in the issue to pursue it. If one of the reporters would run with the story and hold people accountable we would likely get something happening. In early spring the Atlantic Wildlife Institute had Bird Crossing warning signs placed at the traffic circle notifying people to slow down because geese and their babies were being hit.

After about four days, the Department of Transportation removed the signs because they stated they hadn't approved the signs. In response to their taking them down, I wrote a letter to the Minister of Transportation Mr. Bill Fraser. In his letter he stated that potential means of discouraging the wildlife from using this location are currently being investigated. He also mentioned that this particular area is considered a wetland so I decided to continue my search for more information to see why one was maintaining the habitat. I contacted the Department of Environment but they replied that unless something is affecting the water they would not get involved. So I started researching wetlands in the area myself. I discovered a copy of the Moncton Environmental Report from 2013 where it clearly states this area is in fact a wetland. I sent a letter to the City of Moncton asking what had been done to mitigate impacts to the wetland when the new road was built. I was directed to the Province because I was told it was being looked after by them.

The 2013 environment report 2013 stated that the city would be working with Ducks Unlimited to maintain the wetlands at Humphreys brook. If this is the case, why are there no fences up to keep the geese and other wildlife safe, and why are there no signs indicating that the area is a wetland? I am trying to get the geese crossing signs back up and some sort of fencing to keep the geese and babies in an area so they don't get run over trying to cross the traffic circle. I understand that wetland protection was supposed to be completed by the end of 2015. Is there a delay in getting the area maintained? There are no indications that it is being worked on. 

I was told in a letter from the City of Moncton that "Ducks Unlimited is under contract with the city to undertake our wetland compensation plan that was required for the construction of the Tower Road dam in Turtle Creek. The plan includes restoring wetlands that are not functioning as well as they should be and the work is still ongoing at this time. Since the area that you are referring to where the traffic circle is located along Highway 15 or Wheeler Blvd is looked after by the Province of New Brunswick's Department of Transportation, it is not part of the City's wetland compensation plan". 

The reason for not doing anything was described to me in a letter from Minister Bill Fraser assuring me that the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DTI) is aware of the concerns in relation to the presence of what I understand is a significant number of geese nesting within the traffic circle. Potential means of discouraging the wildlife from using this location are currently being investigated. However, this is not a simple exercise as Canada Geese are considered a migratory bird and this area is identified as a Provincially Significant Wetland. Both of these factors mean that Federal and Provincial regulatory compliance requirements must be adhered to and certain approvals may need to be sought before any action is taken to address the situation. While I understand and sympathize with your concern for the Canada Geese crossing the road in the area, these types of warning signs are not recommended by the Transportation Association of Canada. By installing warning signs, there is greater potential that motorists will pay more attention to potential goose appearance than other vehicles, brake suddenly or otherwise react in unexpected ways, resulting in motor vehicle accidents. The Department continues, however, to look into alternative ways to address the current situation and the safety issues it raises.

I travel the highway and use the traffic circle at Wheeler Boulevard every morning between 5:45 am to 6:00 am, about the same time the Geese are getting up and starting to cross back and forth between the middle marsh area and the sides of the highway. Traffic does not slow down at the circle, the speed limit posted is 60 km but it is very rare to see a car abiding by the speed limit sign. Last Friday, May 27, 2016 a co worker of mine witnessed the sad situation of the mother goose being run over and left to die at the side of the highway while her mate and other geese stood by. Why? Because someone was not aware the Geese were in the area and regularly cross there, or they just didn't care. I, along with many people. feel that the Wildlife crossing signs are much needed. The Atlantic Wildlife Institute paid for the signs and the City of Dieppe supplied the wood to post them on only to have the Department of Transportation take them down. No one in either city was charged any amount to put the signs up. Please over-rule the decision to remove the signs and put them back up before someone else has to witness such a sad scenario and before another innocent animal is run over. Tourists and travelers will not be aware of the geese in that area.

The sooner you can look into this and have the signs put back up, the better. I am asking you on behalf of myself and the many travelers of the highway to show compassion for the animals/geese of the area.  

 - Melodie Robb, Moncton, New Brunswick.

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