Consider wildlife during road works, says environmentalist

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TUNNELS and rope bridges should be created across roads when they are repaired or relayed in an effort to help protect wildlife, according to a leading environmentalist.

Bob Tompkins said that factoring in ways to help animals such as red squirrels, hedgehogs and toads to cross the road could help preserve numbers of the under-threat species.

A petition was recently lodged, which has received around 300 signatures, calling for tunnels and rope bridges to help the Island’s wildlife. In his petition, Russ Howarth said: ‘It is not uncommon to come across dead animals on our Island roads and I believe that this is due to an increase in traffic.’

He suggested that a similar funding mechanism to the Percentage for Art scheme, where developers are encouraged to fund the creations of a sculpture or other form of art, could be used to limit the impact of traffic on wildlife.

Speaking about the installation of rope bridges and tunnels, Mr Tompkins, the JEP’s nature correspondent, said: ‘In general terms, it’s a very good idea.

‘If you are looking to repair a road or lay a new road, wildlife is always something to bear in mind, and looking at ways to make sure they can get from one side of the road to the other without being confronted with traffic.’

But he added that the location would have to be suitable, with trees strong enough to support the ropes and not too far apart, while the ropes had to be the right thickness ‘to encourage squirrels to go across’.

‘Equally if we can get road tunnels in certain areas that will help hedgehogs and toads,’ he said, adding that he had come across a squashed toad last week.

‘Anything to allow them to cross under a road rather than over the top of it should be encouraged,’ said Mr Tompkins.

The JSPCA has also called on Islanders to stop for squirrels, saying that those foraging in hedgerows will cross the road to find food. A study by former JSPCA veterinary surgeon Tiffany Blackett found that over 50% of the 337 squirrels brought to the organisation over a seven-year period had died from road traffic injuries.

Another concern for hedgehogs is metal grids.

Mr Tompkins added: ‘One of the things people forget about is the number of places where we have got metal grids across paths. Those can be traps for hedgehogs, which stumble in and simply cannot get out. Thought needs to be put in to those.’

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