Animex, the British firm that designed and produces wildlife exclusion fencing made from recycled plastics, launched its new Spotlight on Conservation newsletter in October by featuring the work of the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project. The e-newsletter is distributed to Animex clients and contacts around the world.
What are the challenges you faced?
When we first started our mitigation work in 2008, we quickly found out that there were few, if any, projects dealing with reptile road mortality anywhere in North America. As a consequence, we’ve had to do some pioneering, often experimental work to get the job done.
We’re also working in a United Nations World Biosphere Reserve and adjacent to a protected National Wildlife Area in the most biodiverse region of Canada. Wading our way through the complex, overlapping web of environmental regulations, permits, approvals and processes has sometimes been much more difficult than installing exclusion fencing and wildlife culverts in a dynamic coastal wetland.
We’ve also had to invest a fair bit of effort in public awareness and education. Believe it or not, we encountered some resistance to our plans to preserve Long Point’s turtle and snake populations, including several Species at Risk. Some people saw our work as a waste of time and money and unlikely to succeed. Well, we’ve reduced reptile road mortality on the Causeway by nearly 80 per cent, so even the skeptics now seem to appreciate our work.
How has Animex helped you?
Finding exclusion fencing that could stand up to the wild and windy wetland conditions at Long Point was a real problem. Most of the fencing systems available were improvised from existing materials not ideally suited for the task. At one point, we even started installing aquaculture netting as our fencing material. We were thrilled to find that someone had purpose-designed an exclusion fencing solution that met most of our requirements. We also liked the fact that the Animex fencing was made of recycled plastics.
We’ve tested Animex fencing in some of our most difficult locations and have been pleased the results. So much so that we are finishing off the final stretch of the Causeway by installing more than 1500 metres of Animex fencing this fall.
How can other people help? Any advice or lessons learned?
Our work is just about done. It will be completed this year with the installation of the fencing and three more wildlife culverts. In total, we will have installed more than six kilometers of exclusion fencing and 12 wildlife culverts including three large aquatic ones that reconnect the Marsh with Long Point Bay. Our group of citizen volunteers who started and have steered this project came together in 2006. After a decade in the trenches, I think we’ll be taking a well-deserved rest.
Reptile road mortality is a problem wherever a road runs through or adjacent to a wetland. But we’re never going to be able to fence off every wetland on the planet. That’s where public awareness and education can play a very crucial role in preserving our rarest species of reptiles and other wetland wildlife. People can help by simply recognizing that these creatures deserve to be protected. So watch out for wildlife on the road, avoiding hitting them if possible and perhaps help them across the road when it’s safe for you to do so.