Mon, Oct 14, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Safe passages under busy roads save animals’ lives

Staff writer, with CNA

As part of increased awareness of the need to better protect the environment, highway authorities have taken measures to reduce roadkills around the nation, with success.

The National Freeway Bureau (NFB) began a survey four years ago on roadkills and has identified certain hot spots where ecological corridors are needed.

Improvements made to Freeway No. 3 in Greater Tainan have eliminated fatal accidents involving masked palm civets.

According to the survey, there has been a total of about 40,000 roadkills over the past four years, with 73 percent of the victims being birds.

Other animals killed include cats, dogs, rodents, lizards, snakes, frogs, turtles, squirrels and bats, including some endangered species.

Having discovered a high fatality rate among masked palm civets in Greater Tainan’s Baihe District (白河), the NFB turned some culverts under the road into safe passages to allow animals to travel from one side of the highway to the other without danger.

Grass was planted inside the tunnels and metal nets set up along the highway to make sure the animals used the tunnels.

On that section of Freeway No. 3, six civets were killed each year on average, until the measures were taken four years ago.

For the last three years, there have been zero fatalities, according to the NFB, adding that cameras installed inside the tunnels have recorded images of animals using the passage, including Formosan ferret-badgers and hares, as well as civets.

Building on that success, the NFB experimented this year with construction of an overpass in Miaoli County.

The 100m roadway carries traffic over Highway No. 3, but is little used because of its remote location.

The NFB has turned 2.5m of the 7m-wide roadway into a band of soil and grass to encourage animal use.

Short bushes have also been planted to offer better protection for the creatures.

NFB staff said they were excited to find that animals began using the roadway in the first month of the improvements being made.

In addition to measures taken along freeways totaling about 1,000m, similar modifications are being made along minor roads, including the scenic route on the northeastern coast of the country.

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