National Wildlife Collision Reporting & Mitigation Infrastructure

Wildlife-vehicle collisions are a significant problem for wildlife and motorists, costing over $280 million per year in Alberta alone in 2015. This human-wildlife conflict fragments wildlife populations, kills and injures animals, and can cause species declines. Transportation is cited as a threat to over 52% of Canadian vertebrates assessed as at- risk.

A 2003 report to Transport Canada recommended the creation of a national wildlife accident reporting system. Since then, smartphone-based systems have been implemented in ten countries, providing more accurate, standardized, timely and low- cost data collection. The Alberta Wildlife Watch (AWW) smartphone application automatically uploads data to a centralized database allowing for quick data access to identify conflict hotspots, plan and monitor mitigation infrastructure, and create habitat connectivity plans. The AWW app can be easily deployed to other jurisdictions, and used by citizen scientists.

Recommended Investment:

$4.5 million over three years to work with the provinces and territories to implement a national smartphone-based wildlife-vehicle collision data reporting system. [TC, ECCC, PC]

The twinning of the Trans-Canada Highway through Banff National Park included the installation of 38 wildlife underpasses, 6 overpasses, and fencing that have reduced wildlife-vehicle collisions by 80%.110 Monitoring has shown improved landscape connectivity, with many species common to the Bow Valley ecosystem increasing their use of these crossing structures.

Based on the avoided costs of vehicle damage, human injuries and fatalities, and wildlife mortality, a properly located wildlife crossing can pay for itself in 10 to 20 years, long before its projected 75-year lifespan. The most efficient way to prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions is to integrate effective mitigation measures in wildlife conflict zones every time major road or rail work is undertaken.

Recommendation:

That the federal government make highway and railway funding conditional on an integrated wildlife management plan, including any required wildlife-vehicle collision mitigation infrastructure. [INFC, TC, ECCC, PC].

Contact

Gretchen Fitzgerald – gretchenf@sierraclub.ca

See also Connectivity in Land and Ocean Protected Area Networks, earlier in this document.