Friday March 25, 2016

Was a Dutch city nuts to spend $220,000 on a bridge for squirrels?

The squirrel bridge cost over $200,000 dollars to build.

The squirrel bridge cost over $200,000 dollars to build. (Arjen Dubbelaar)

Listen 6:12

The local government in The Hague, Netherlands, wanted to make sure squirrels were having safe sex, without having to dodge cars on a busy highway.

The Hague is about 60 kilometres southwest of Amsterdam.

Coun. Arjen Dubbelaar tells As It Happens host Carol Off, "They have this bridge so the squirrels on the one side of the road can have sex with the squirrels on the other side to prevent inbreeding."

Dubbelaar said most of the squirrel families are on one side of the road, so in order to expand the population, they want to encourage the squirrels come into contact with, and mate with, the squirrels from the other side of the road.

But when Dubbelaar looked into it, he found that in two years, only five squirrels had ever used the $220,000 dollar structure.

That's $44,000 dollars per squirrel.

Dubbelaar is criticising the city government for spending so much on the bridge. 

"Somebody has taken a decision to spend a hell of a lot of money to build this futuristic bridge. In the end, none of the squirrels are using it."

He says chauffeuring each squirrel across individually would have been less expensive.

"You could pick up the squirrel on one side and bring it with a taxi to the other side. That solution is cheaper than this bridge."

A view of the Squirrel bridge in the Hague

A view of the Squirrel bridge in the Hague from Google Street View. (Google)

Dubbelaar says he can think of a much more economical solution: "If you take a rope [above the road] you'd be done with a few hundred Euros," he says.

At the end of his interview with Carol, Dubbelaar floated another proposal:

"Maybe it's an idea to sell this bridge to Canada."