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Human factors stand in the way of wildlife crossings

Cara J

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In western Canada, it’s not unusual to find structures built to help wildlife cross busy highways. But in Ontario, where the wildlife tends to be smaller but the urban populations are bigger, they’re not so common. The result may be thousands of wildlife-vehicle collisions that could be prevented, millions of dollars that could be saved and wildlife — and human — deaths that could be prevented. That’s the conclusion of a paper published in the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, which looked at why more mechanisms aren’t put in place in southern Ontario, which has the highest concentration of roads in Canada. “The cost of them is relatively low compared to the societal cost of collisions in general,” said Kristin Elton, who completed the research as part of her master’s thesis in urban and environmental planning at the University of Waterloo. Elton looked at why more strategies like signage, wildlife detection systems, fencing and wildlife crossings weren’t implemented on southern Ontario’s roadways. Using a project management approach, she tried to understand why some are successfully implemented while others aren’t. Cost was sometimes an issue, she found, but more often there were human factors. Sometimes it was a lack of [...]

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