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Animal infrastructure helps critters safely cross the road

Provincial police say they've noticed a lower number of collisions involving wildlife this year in northeastern Ontario.
On a stretch of highway just north of Killarney, there's an overpass with images of deer and moose sculpted into the side. It was built by the Ministry of Transportation to keep animals off a section of Highway 69 that sees more collisions with animals than average. (Kari Gunson)

Provincial police say they've noticed a lower number of collisions involving wildlife this year in northeastern Ontario.

That's because animals are using newly constructed wildlife passages, such as tunnels and an overpass on Highway 69 near the exit to Killarney, said OPP inspector Mark Andrews.

“We're just trying to keep it, so that wildlife can cross the road — or under it or over it — in a safe manner so that we don't have that deadly interaction between vehicles and wildlife,” he said.

Wildlife is the No.1 contributing factor for collisions in the region, Andrews noted.

So far this year, animals have accounted for 16 per cent of vehicle collisions in northeastern Ontario, he added.

Tunnel under Highway 69 south of Sudbury for turtles and other reptiles to cross wetlands under the highway. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Ministry of Natural Resources biologist Mike Hall said he'd like to see more infrastructure designed for animals.

“If you don't have these structures then you're going to see a lot of animals being hit on the road,” he said.

 “Aside from the public safety concern, it's … a waste of natural resources. So it just makes sense to try and accommodate all users of the landscape.”

Hall said highways present a large barrier for animal migration and that the number of wildlife passages can save the lives of humans and animals.

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