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Wildlife-Vehicle Mitigation on Northeastern Ontario Highways


Wildlife collisions on Ontario’s highways are an increasing problem. It is estimated that each year, approximately 14,000 (6%) of Ontario’s vehicle collisions involve wildlife. Approximately 10% of these occur in Northeastern Region with an estimated cost of $110 million per year. Collisions with wildlife can result in driver injury or fatality. The cost to wildlife is even higher as it is estimated that as many as half of wildlife collisions are unreported but nonetheless can result in either serious injury or mortality to the animal. In addition to collisions with large wildlife, smaller wildlife, including speciesat-risk wildlife are also hit on highways. The science of wildlife-vehicle collision mitigation is emerging and as such trials are still being completed to demonstrate the effectiveness of various mitigation strategies and techniques in specific terrain and conditions. In addition, the collection of wildlife collision data is based on reported collisions and does not include more minor collisions or all collisions with large commercial traffic. The aforementioned factors present challenges in addressing wildlife-vehicle collisions, particularly when the implementation of mitigation is costly. Northeastern Region MTO has struck a Wildlife Mitigation Team to begin to systematically address priority wildlife collision locations. The group has taken several approaches to addressing collisions which include strengthening data collection and analysis, provision of grade-separated crossing opportunities, installation of wildlife fencing, installation of wildlife reflectors and plans for the use of technologies such as the Radio-Activated Detection System or similar. Included in these efforts is a Sharepoint website accessible to the environmental function where experiences with mitigation techniques can be documented. Northeastern Region has also undertaken to maintain a current list all available wildlife mitigation literature, also available Ministry-wide through Sharepoint. This represents an innovative approach to addressing wildlifevehicle collisions since prior to this effort, these were examined on a project by project basis. The purpose of this paper is to present the efforts to date and experiences of the Wildlife Mitigation Team, including challenges encountered and lessons learned.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
2008 TAC Environmental Achievement Award Nominations
Heather Garbutt
Environmental issues, Environmental legislation