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Watch for Wildlife joins an International Movement - by Dr. Fraser Shilling, Road Ecology Centre

A letter from Dr. Fraser Shilling, Director of the Road Ecology Center and California Roadkill Observation System

Watch for Wildlife Nova Scotia has joined a large and growing family of programs around the world working to reduce wildlife vehicle collisions on our roads. In California, we have the California Roadkill Observation System (http://wildlifecrossing.net/california), which we started in 2009 to give us a way to record wildlife carcasses on roads and highways. We collect the wildlife data to improve the way we manage human activities, like traffic and roads. We followed this with a system for Maine (http://wildlifecrossing.net/maine) which has similar approaches, with more widgets and buttons like transect monitoring and the ability to record “no wildlife” observations.

Like W4W NS, we want to reduce roadkill/wildlife-vehicle conflict (WVC). We do it through data collection and analysis mechanisms and we would like to do more connecting with the public. We find that the combination of public/volunteer reporting of roadkill and university data analysis is very powerful when talking to transportation agencies. Our data has been used to build wildlife crossing structures too, which helps complete the circle back to wildlife. An example of this is recorded in this time lapse video of wildlife using an underpass on Hwy 50 over 3 months.

We have also extended our discussion and analyses beyond just wildlife protection and we are talking more about driver safety and the cost to society of wildlife-vehicle conflict. Using traffic incidents reports from emergency responders, we recently mapped WVC hotspots throughout California (https://roadecology.ucdavis.edu/files/content/news/CA_WVC_Hotspots_2016.pdf), and estimated the total cost to California of these conflicts at $225 million/year! We are confident that this will help us to increase the sense of urgency across a wider portion of society and build support for wildlife vehicle collision solutions.

More recently, we have hosted a conversation at conferences and online (http://globalroadkill.net), which we look forward to having with Nova Scotia W4W folks too. These conversations help with sharing tools and findings, supporting the challenge of developing large-scale wildlife observation networks, and figuring out how to use the data to reduce the harm that transportation causes.

It’s exciting that Nova Scotia is joining this global movement and I am sure you will help us all grow and improve. Thanks in advance for working for wildlife and I look forward to seeing your efforts blossom and bear fruit in the form of crossing structures, driver education, and raising social consciousness.

Fraser Shilling

Road Ecology Center and California Roadkill Observation System

http://roadecology.ucdavis.edu

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