With continual urban development and fragmenting wildlife habitats, wildlife-vehicle collisions have become a growing concern for Canadian municipalities. With strong growth in the province of Alberta, the Alberta Transportation authority reported a correlated increase in wildlife-vehicle collisions of 170%, which has led to many injuries and deaths, as well as $240 million CAD in legal claims.
At the same time, local citizens have been gaining a greater understanding of the impact they are having on their natural environment, and are holding municipalities to their sustainable development commitments. In Alberta’s capital city, a recent public opinion survey reported that 97% of Edmontonians recognize the intrinsic value of natural ecosystems and are interested in their protection and restoration.
This public support for sustainable development has pushed the City of Edmonton and the private sector to become leaders in addressing the city’s ecological infrastructure through protected areas and biodiversity corridors, as well as through innovative design of transportation and drainage networks. In 2007, the local government initiated a wildlife passage program, with the goal of maintaining habitat connectivity for the city’s wildlife populations while also reducing human-wildlife conflict.
Since the program’s inception, the City has created the Wildlife Passage Engineering Design Guidelines – a publication that provides easily accessible information on wildlife passage design – and has constructed 27 wildlife passages. These have reduced wildlife collisions by 51%.
As municipalities continue to grow, purposefully designed wildlife passages such as those in Edmonton will become increasingly important for minimizing habitat fragmentation and providing an opportunity for climate change adaptation.
For more information, please visit the City of Edmonton website.