NCC studying ways to make roads safer for wildlife
Volunteers needed for next stage of project
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), in partnership with Dalhousie University, has completed the first phase of the Wildpaths Maritimes project, a study of wildlife mortality rates along roads from Moncton, New Brunswick to Amherst, Nova Scotia, in the Chignecto Isthmus.
The narrow Chignecto Isthmus connects Nova Scotia to New Brunswick and the rest of North America.
It is one of the region’s busiest transportation hubs as well as a critical area for conservation, where NCC and other organizations are working to conserve a wilderness corridor for wildlife.
Based on research done last summer, the Wildpaths Maritimes project found the highest rates of wildlife mortality along New Brunswick’s Route 134 and Highway 15 and Nova Scotia’s Route 6.
The 15-week study found a high rate of mortality and a diversity of wildlife affected. The most common animals killed by cars were porcupine (116) and raccoon (113), followed by skunk (28) snowshoe hare (25), white-tailed deer (8), red fox (4), beaver (4) and black bear (3). There were also many types of songbirds and amphibians killed.
The study was carried out by Dalhousie graduate student Amelia Barnes, supervised by Karen Beazley, PhD, at Dalhousie’s School for Resource and Environmental Studies.
“This is a big step forward in terms of understanding how wildlife is moving through the Chignecto Isthmus, and we are looking forward to learning more, as we enter a second phase of this effort,” says Paula Noël, New Brunswick program director with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. “At NCC, we are working with many partners to find ways of making our highways safer for both wildlife and people. We need volunteer observers and invite anyone with an interest in wildlife, who lives in the Sackville and Amherst areas, to contact us for the next phase of the Wildpaths Maritimes project.”
Volunteers can contribute to the project by recording roadside wildlife observations using the iNaturalist app on their smartphone. One of the long-range goals of the Wildpaths Maritimes project, carried out in partnership with Dalhousie University, New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, and Atlantic Wildlife Institute, is to identify sections of highways that present the greatest barriers to wildlife and to find solutions to preventing wildlife and vehicle collisions.
The Wildpaths Maritimes project is the latest step in NCC’s ongoing conservation work on the Chignecto Isthmus, one of the most critical habitats in the Maritimes. NCC has protected more than 3,000 acres (1,214 hectares) of land in the Chignecto Isthmus to help secure a permanent wilderness corridor for wildlife in the region.
Protecting habitat connectivity on the Chignecto Isthmus is essential to allowing the healthy renewal of wildlife populations, especially with greater migration expected due to climate change. If the narrow border area is further fragmented by roads and development, wildlife populations in Nova Scotia will decline over the long term, due to isolation from other populations in eastern North America.
Anyone wishing to volunteer with the WildPaths Maritimes project is encouraged to contact the Nature Conservancy of Canada at 1-877-231-4400.
The WildPaths Maritimes project has received funding from the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund and the Nova Scotia Habitat Conservation Fund.
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