Research Papers

Project 400: Building Safer Roads for Motorists and Wildlife in Ontario

Filename cmrsc19_61.pdf
Filesize 264 KB
Version 1
Date added June 7, 2009
Downloaded 2 times/fois
Category 2009–CMRSC-XIX–Saskatoon
Tags Session 3B
Author/Auteur Kari Gunson, Dave Ireland


In Ontario and world-wide, wildlife is increasingly involved in collisions with motor-vehicles. Based on the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) 2004 statistics, roughly 6% of all motor-vehicle collisions involve wildlife (14,000/year). Motor-vehicle collisions, especially with large mammals can lead to injury or death for the animal, motorist or both creating a serious human-safety transportation issue. In response, to increasing collisions and traffic volumes, the MTO is planning to extend a number of “400 series highways” over the next 20 years, with plans to integrate practical mitigation solutions e.g. wildlife overpasses and underpasses into the road design. In response to knowledge gaps in the transportation planning process e.g. where is mitigation most needed, a group of individuals from non-government, government, and academic institutions collectively called the Ontario Road Ecology Group (OREG) formed in 2007 at the Toronto Zoo. To assist in the planning process, the OREG has successfully completed a multi-scale linkage model in a geographic information system (GIS) that predicts likely hotspots for interactions between wetland-forest wildlife and motorists on roads in southern Ontario. Model development entailed a system of scoring or weighting of several land use categories, e.g. wetland and forests surrounding roads. Preliminary validation with Chi-square statistics and 30 years of collision data across eastern Ontario has shown that the model accurately predicts hotspots for wetland-forest herpetofauna on existing roads. The model can be applied at a regional scale or on a case-by-case basis to maintain safe roads for motorists and wildlife. The model was recently used to assist in determining linkage zones for mitigation structures along 60 km of a highway 407 extension project east of Toronto. The OREG is currently striving to bring together a multitude of stakeholders at a provincial and municipal level to determine a standard protocol to incorporate local and regional scale landscape planning into policy for transportation projects on new and old roads in Ontario.

Kari Gunson, Dave Ireland