Ontario community's work to prevent turtles, snakes being killed on roads a model for others

Stop sign in Kahnawake

A rural Ontario community's work to prevent endangered reptiles from being killed on a 3.6-kilometre stretch of road once considered among the world's deadliest for turtles is being held up as a successful example of how to protect vulnerable wildlife.

A new research paper, published Friday in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, details the community of Long Point's construction of roadway fencing and culverts tunnels used for animal travel to decrease the numbers of turtles and snakes dying on the Long Point Causeway in a southwestern part of the province.

The road connecting the Long Point Peninsula on Lake Erie and mainland Ontario was ranked as the world's fourth deadliest site for turtle road mortality in 2003.

Researchers also estimated that since 1979, as many as 10,000 animals per year were killed by traffic on the two-lane stretch.

The study found, however, that the community's work to protect the reptiles living in wetlands surrounding the causeway has reduced the number of turtles venturing onto the road by 89 per cent over 10 years, while the number of snakes going on to the road dropped by 28 per cent.

Researchers say the efforts around Long Point could be a useful model for other communities located near fragile ecosystems around the world.

Study lead researcher Chantel Markle of McMaster University said it's important to tackle the issue of road mortality head-on, especially for turtles that are particularly susceptible to the issue.