While vehicle collisions with wild animals are increasing in Estrie, Appalachian Corridor has launched a vast project to facilitate wildlife crossings in certain critical areas of Highway 10, particularly between Bromont and Magog.
A first study was conducted last year to determine the costs of accidents with “large wildlife”: deer, moose and bears, among others. A group is now investigating collisions with small and medium-sized animals to get an overall picture.
This portion of the overall project, named Corridors, will be spread over two years. Three biology students at Concordia University, Sabrina Mruczek, Steffy Velosa and Anna Krupa, will travel for four months, morning and evening at low speeds, along the edge of the Eastern Townships Highway in targeted areas. in the first phase of the initiative.
“One person drives and the other two watch for animal carcasses. Foxes, raccoons, coyotes or lynx, for example. If they find some, they stop, note the species and mark the place on a GPS point, “summarized the general director of Appalachian Corridor, Mélanie Lelièvre.
Six years ago, the organization approached the Quebec Ministry of Transport (MTQ) to launch the first milestone of the project, also conducted in partnership with the Ministries of Wildlife, Environment and Concordia Universities. Sherbrooke.
The first step was to identify the main natural routes and collision zones on both sides of Autoroute 10, which “constitutes a great barrier to wildlife movement on the territory,” said Mélanie Lelièvre. .
The data collected made it possible to establish four priority sectors, located between km 74 and km 121. The first portion (zone A) is that between the Brome and Shefford Mountains, near Bromont. The second (B) is located between Stukely-Sud and Saint-Étienne-de-Bolton. The third (C) is the Eastman area. The last (D) is near Magog, between the Orford Mountains and Chagnon.
The current study on collisions with “small and medium” wildlife will be conducted in zones A, B and D.
The new Corridors project was to be launched last year. In the absence of a grant, the initiative, whose costs are estimated at $ 220,000, was put on the ice.
“We are still waiting for an answer for funding from the MTQ department. It should be clarified in August. As we received some of the money recently from the Fondation de la Faune, we were able to start the project, “said Lelièvre.
It should be noted that Appalachian Corridor must also contribute financially to the initiative. For its part, Concordia University awards more than $ 60,000, mainly “in time and equipment loan. ”
The Corridors project must produce a series of recommendations for improvements and actions to be implemented to facilitate wildlife crossings along the highway.
The construction of new culverts specific to each animal species, crossing the road artery, is among the panoply of possible options. The installation of fences to “channel” the animals in a specific area is another.
According to Mélanie Lelièvre, these improvements will however have to be made at the same time as works on road infrastructures. Such repairs are not on the short-term schedule, said the Appalachian Corridor DG.
“There is openness [of the MTQ] to take into account our recommendations. Over a horizon of three to four years, it is possible that there is approved work [on the A10], and that in one of the priority areas, there is a plan with wildlife passages and fences. ”