Examining Ecopassages Through the Evaluation of Four Case Studies for Application in Southern Ontario
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Vehicle collisions represent one of the largest anthropogenic causes of wildlife mortality. Herpetofauna are at risk for large population declines and potential extirpation as a result of a small percentage of total population mortality due to roads. Herpetofauna play an important role in wetland ecosystems and provide many ecosystem services. Ecopassages allow for the safe passage of animals under roads. The objective of this research is to identify the common elements of ecopassage developments and innovative practices that may be adopted for future application in Southern Ontario. In this paper four ecopassage case studies were used to ascertain the main features in ecopassage design and implementation. A qualitative analysis was done to highlight the major themes from each case. These themes were then compared with those present in the reference literature on ecopassages to determine their validity. In all of the case studies, the main ecopassage features were the identification of the species of importance, the identification of crossing ‘hot spots’, and the importance of fencing. The reference literature also cited the importance of mitigation and of installing ecopassages during initial road construction. Additionally, innovative approaches to ecopassage design were found in the Long Point Causeway and 1000 Islands Parkway cases. These include combining a change in driver behaviour with a change in animal behaviour and using the construction of an ecopassage as an opportunity to create a multi-use road thereby implementing multiple benefits into one development while offsetting the perceived cost and time of the project. Providing social benefits may also serve to bring the community together with their natural environment and will improve the public opinion surrounding ecopassage projects.