Work to reduce the annual road kill of turtles, snakes and frogs on the Long Point causeway began this week thanks to $30,300 in financial support from Ontario’s Species at Risk Stewardship Fund. The funding for the causeway work was announced by Toby Barrett, MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk, on behalf of Minister of Natural Resources Donna Cansfield.
The Long Point Causeway Improvement Project (LPCIP) is installing one-metre high, temporary fencing along sections of the causeway where studies have shown that most road kills occur. Mounds of sand will also placed in the road allowance to create alternative nesting sites for turtles that often crawl onto the roadway seeking high, dry ground for laying their eggs. The fencing and nesting sites will be closely monitored over the summer months to study their effectiveness.
The LPCIP will also be erecting electronic message signs to alert motorists to wildlife crossing the road and undertaking a public awareness campaign on the road kill issue. Thousands of frogs, snakes and turtles, including species at risk such as the Blanding’s and Northern Map Turtles and the Eastern Fox and Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes, are killed on the causeway each year. The work is being carried out in partnership with Norfolk County.
“This is the first real attempt to reduce the annual carnage on the causeway which is the fifth deadliest road for turtles in North America,” said Paula Jongerden, chair of the LPCIP steering committee of the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation (LPWBRF). “These are temporary measures until we can install permanent barrier walls along the entire length of the causeway and a system of ecopassages that will allow wildlife to pass beneath the roadway.”
Earlier this year, the LPCIP published a comprehensive feasibility study by Ecoplans Limited of Kitchener, Ontario on possible improvements to the 80 year-old, man-made causeway including:
- Reducing wildlife road mortality
- Improving access between Long Point and Port Rowan
- Creating safer roadway conditions for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians
- Improving water quality and water movement between Big Creek marsh and Long Point inner bay
- Improving recreational opportunities (e.g. biking, birding, fishing)
The public was invited to comment on the study’s recommendations at an open house held at the Port Rowan Community Centre in March.
Ontario is investing more than $5 million this year in volunteer stewardship projects across the province that will help protect and recover species at risk and their habitats. The projects are part of the province’s $18-million, four-year Species at Risk Stewardship Fund.