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Letter to TOL-Public Viewing

Letter to TOL-Public Viewing

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Published by Patricia Tallman
This is the letter I wrote to the Township of Langley and Council re: wildlife habitat loss
This is the letter I wrote to the Township of Langley and Council re: wildlife habitat loss

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Published by: Patricia Tallman on Aug 12, 2011
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To: TOL personnel and Council membersJuly 25, 2011From: Patricia Tallman, Ph.D. (Environmental and Water Resources Engineering)PurposeI am writing this letter to initiate actions for reducing the number of road kill of small wildmammals in the TOL. Since moving to Willoughby, I have witnessed two rabbit fatalities (oneadult, one kit) by motor vehicles at the same location, within a 4-week period, as well as thirdroad kill on 80
Ave, 2 blocks west of 208
Street. The site of the first two fatalities is on 83
 ave., between 208
and 209A streets, near the Athenry Gate sign. On three other separateoccasions, I swerved to avoid hitting rabbits that were trying to cross the road on 83
ave.,and on 80
ave., between 208
and 202A streets. These six incidents occurred between June5 and July 23. I suspect that road kill are only symptomatic of an underlying problem: thehuman-wildlife conflict in urban development.PrefaceI want to preface my recommendations by commending the TOL’s adoption of the WildlifeHabitat Conservation Strategy (WHCS), and your efforts to establish wildlife habitat patchesand corridors for future developing communities within TOL. I also recognize a sincereconcerted effort by TOL to implement this Strategy through policies and Bylaw 4682 for theWilloughby Community. However, my above experience is so different from when we wereliving in Walnut Grove for the previous 15 years, that one wonders if there maybe areas ofhabitat protection that have been neglected in developing Willoughby, particularly for smallanimals such as opossums, squirrels, skunks, raccoons, and rabbits, because they can beeasily ignored.Since my initial report on June 5, #92315, of the first rabbit fatality with a request forsuggested actions, it has taken until July 15 for a response. The essence of the phone call wasthat nothing can be done from a transportation point of view to mitigate these conditions.
Thus, I am submitting this letter with recommendations for the following to be consideredby all respective departments in an effort to reduce the number of road fatalities of smallwild animals through:i)
awareness campaigns, and
further wildlife habitat considerations.
Executive SummaryBylaw 4682 (2008) of the TOL, as an amendment to OCP, forms part of a strategy to protectenvironmental values in developable areas, and as such, includes a policy statement forprotecting and enhancing wildlife habitat. As I understand it, the habitat protection andenhancement policy does not discriminate against any species.I was hoping that best management practices (BMP) to accompany the Strategy would existat the site development level. The habitat patches and corridor provided for in the Bylawserve the TOL as a whole, but in practice the designated patches may be too sparse toaccommodate displacements of local wildlife from their habitat at individual project sites. Iwas further hoping to see BMP for individual developments to include measures to retainhabitat pockets such as: reserving refuge areas for local wildlife to retreat to as the land isdeveloped; buffered zones to mitigate road fatalities; tailored landscapes to provide coverand forage material for displaced animals.Since moving to Willoughby two months ago, I have witnessed two rabbits within the spaceof one month hit by cars at the same location. In contrast, I did not see any road kill in WalnutGrove in the 15 years we lived there; although I do recall seeing road kill (no more than 6incidents in the 15 years) of opossums and squirrels while driving in the same Willoughbyneighborhood of 208
street and 84
Ave. This contrasting experience suggests that thehuman-wildlife conflict in this zone seems to be an ongoing problem. A closer examination ofthis particular zone is warranted. As mentioned, the aforementioned rabbits’ behavior(foraging next to the road shoulder on 83
Ave) indicates that they are being pushed to liveand feed closer to the road in a smaller roam area than before. This is not normal behavior.Rabbits do not like sudden commotion or loud noises, and can actually die from fright.
I am suggesting that the WHCS could be enhanced by extending the concept further to amore detailed level, i.e., creation of habitat pockets within each development (or within asmall catchment of 2-3 consecutive developments) that feed into allocated habitat patches,and ultimately, the wildlife corridor. I have made several recommendations for immediateaction, as well as future incorporation into site development plans for your consideration: i)awareness campaigns, and ii) habitat pockets. Awareness campaigns consist of actions thatcan be taken immediately to raise public awareness of wild animals being displaced due tourban development. Habitat pockets are measures of BMP that developers can incorporateto allow for transition of displaced wildlife due to habitat loss.
We moved to Willoughby on May 11, 2011.
On June 6, I filed a report with transportation #92315 of a road kill of an adult rabbit. Itwas an adult Eastern cottontail hit by a car, probably in the evening of June 5. It had beenlying on the road since its demise, and I witnessed cars going over the carcassthroughout the day. The deceased animal was finally picked up around 4 pm on June 6. Iwas appalled at the disrespect of motorists who drove over the deceased animal asopposed to going around it.
In my phone call, I mentioned that I see rabbits often along that stretch of the road (onthe grassy area right next to the shoulder) where the adult rabbit was hit on 83
Ave.,between 208 and 209A St. When cars go by, the rabbit(s) run off into the tall grasses. Isuggested that a slower speed limit be posted there 30 km/hr, instead of the 50 km/hr,plus a sign indicating rabbit crossing. Crystal (who took the initial report) said that arequest will be submitted.
I travel that stretch of road several times a day, seven days a week, and have seen rabbitstrying to cross 83
Ave from one side to the other, early mornings.
Around July 5, I called for an update of the request to engineering, but no progress hasbeen made. I reiterated that I see rabbit kits eating along the road shoulder (and still do)that scuttle away as cars go by (way over the 50 km/hr). I was very concerned for thesafety of the rabbit kits and pressed for action. The receiver logged in my request andasked me to call back later for an update.
On July 11, I called a third time as my concern had become a tragic foreseeable reality. Arabbit kit was hit by a car between 7:30 and 8:00 am on July 10. Early that July 10 morningaround 7:30 am, I passed by that area and saw the kit eating grass near the roadshoulder; on my return trip, I see his dead body on the shoulder with two crows eatinghis carcass. I stopped to closely examine the situation, and oncoming traffic simplycontinued over the carcass. If the carcass was a dead dog, would motorists drive over it?Perhaps not!
On July 15, at 4:30pm I received a call from Mike Stang indicating that nothing Isuggested can be done: i) that slower speed limits cannot be put up as all standardstreets are 50 km/hr.; ii) that signs indicating rabbit or wildlife crossing cannot be put upas none exists. The only signs indicating wildlife crossings are for deer.
July 23, at 7:15 am, I passed by a road kill on 80
Ave, about 2 city blocks west of 208
 street. The carcass was in the shade and I only saw it at the last minute, but was able toswerve around it. My impression was that it was a small animal. On my return trip at 7:45am, the carcass was gone (I assume the crows got it). I returned home, retrieved mycamera, and took pictures of the blood splatter and entrails.ValuesThe Wildlife Habitat Conservation Strategy (WHCS) recognizes the importance of wildlifehabitat to support existing and future wildlife. Bylaw 4682 includes a statement to promotehabitat stewardship among its residents. In that intent, road kill are distressful to witness,especially juvenile animals. While all road kill cannot be eliminated in an urban setting, I feelthat, based on my recent experience, more can be done to mitigate these circumstances,especially for small animals (which are often ignored because of their small stature); and thatTOL could take a closer look at neighborhoods with higher than normal reported road kill. Ipresent below some options for reducing the number of road kill due to habitat loss.

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