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Critter crossing makes Maltby Road safer for turtles and others

Living near turtles means modifying roads with wildlife crossings, like a new one being installed on Maltby Road this week

Another addition to Guelph’s wildlife crossings is under construction on Maltby Road East to help keep amphibians, reptiles and mammals safe.

Previously the stretch of Maltby Road was a dirt road and didn’t get much traffic, said Leah Lefler, environmental planner at the City of Guelph. Now the stretch of road is paved.

“We saw a lot of traffic and then that's when I started to hear about turtle mortality,” said Lefler.

The road cuts through wetlands on either side “and so those tend to be hotspots for wildlife mortality, amphibians and reptiles in particular,” she said.

There are wildlife crossings on Niska Road, Eastview Road, and in the Dallan subdivision south of Clair Road.

Wildlife crossings are tunnels underneath the road. They vary in size depending on what type of wildlife is expected to use the crossing. 

“Scientists have learned that light, and the right moisture, the right airspace around the opening is necessary for wildlife to feel safe, and to actually use the crossing,” said Lefler. This is why the tunnels have a tarp with holes so light, moisture and airflow can move through.

The tunnels are monitored with cameras placed inside them. Staff can see if the wildlife use the crossing successfully if they make it to the other side.

Staff also monitor the effectiveness of the tunnels by conducting road mortality surveys. After construction of the crossings fencing is installed so wildlife won't circumvent the tunnels and prevents wildlife from using the road. The fencing is checked for holes or gaps. 

Before the crossing on Eastview Road was constructed there were records of a lot of wildlife mortality and now “they continue to record a healthy population of the different frog species that are found there,” said Lefler.

There are auditory surveys conducted on warm rainy nights in the spring when amphibians are calling to determine what amount of population is around.

As for what type of wildlife uses the crossing it depends on the location. There are records of creatures like snapping turtles, garter snakes, brown snakes, leopard frogs, wood frogs and American toads. As for mammals there have been raccoons, possum, mink, weasels, skunks and even a cat.

“We are in a biodiversity crisis. More people than ever live in cities. Biodiversity is a really important part of our world. And in Guelph we take an environment first approach to planning and city building. And we know because we have scientific evidence that we can do both. We can have roads and there are simple things we can do to protect biodiversity in our city and continue to have turtles and amphibians, reptiles and amphibians and mammals living with us here. We don't need to exclude them. We can figure out how to modify our roads to accommodate their movement,” said Lefler.

Weather permitting, construction on Maltby Road is supposed to wrap up Friday.


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Santana Bellantoni

About the Author: Santana Bellantoni

Santana Bellantoni was born and raised in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. As a general assignment reporter for Guelph Today she is looking to discover the communities, citizens and quirks that make Guelph a vibrant city.
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