Long Point Causeway Improvement Project


Motorists getting the message

Published by the Simcoe Reformer, August 30th, 2010.

The message appears to be sinking in.

The number of snakes, turtles and frogs killed on the Long Point Causeway this year appears to be way down. That’s encouraging news for supporters of the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project. They have made it their mission to stop the carnage, much of which affects endangered species.

“The numbers are notably down from previous years, especially for species at risk,” Rick Levick, co-ordinator of the improvement project, said at the
NatureFest event at the Port Rowan Community Centre Sunday. “We have to
attribute that to some of the fencing we put in, but also to people taking
greater care. We are seeing positive results. We want to keep that going.”

The 2.7-kilometre causeway is a primary killing ground because it serves as
a dividing line between the Big Creek Marsh and Long Point Bay. Both are
teeming with reptiles. The species’ that make up the majority of roadkill
have numerous reasons for travelling between the ecosystems.
The reptile preservation message isn’t just confined to the Port Rowan area
these days. Representatives of Scales Nature Park in Orillia have been
spreading the word between Windsor and Norfolk County over the past three
weeks. The final stop of the campaign was this weekend’s Naturefest.

Scales representatives brought with them examples of endangered reptiles
native to Norfolk County. Local species included an eastern fox snake, a
Blanding’s turtle and a black rat snake. At more than two metres long, the
latter is Canada’s biggest snake.

As far as snakes are concerned, spokesman Jeff Hathaway says the key is
getting people to leave them alone. Only one species of snake in Ontario —
the Massassauga rattler — is poisonous. It has a very limited range, being
confined to shoreline areas of Windsor, Wainfleet, Georgian Bay and the
Bruce peninsula. The rest are harmless to humans and actually do a lot of

“Leave the snakes alone,” Hathaway said. “Don’t hurt them. Don’t kill them.
There are no dangerous snakes around here. They eat rats and mice. If you
live in an agricultural area, you understand how important it is to keep
rats and mice under control. Farmers seem to understand that.”

Dave Reid, co-ordinator of the Norfolk Land Stewardship Council, says the
ability of southern Ontario to support endangered species is a measure of
how well humans are managing the environment. When species begin to
disappear, that means people are harming the ecosystem in a way that could
come back to haunt us.

“It’s about biodiversity,” Reid said. “Snakes and turtles are part of the
puzzle. If you start losing them, that means something is broken. A lot of
these reptiles are listed as endangered. It’s important that we keep them.
They play a role in the environment. They play roles that we don’t even
understand yet. We live in ecosystems that we have altered. We have to be
proactive if we want to keep these species around.

Sunday’s event was sponsored by The Long Point World Biosphere Reserve.