In Canada, wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVCs) are a serious burden to our society. The consequences are widespread and include significant road safety, environmental, and socio-economic costs. Collisions with animals result in death and serious injuries for road users and financial costs have been estimated as high as $200 million annually (L-P Tardif & Associates Inc. 2003). Between four and eight collisions occur every hour with large animals, and of these it has been estimated that over 45,000 collisions occur every year with large animals alone.
For large and small wildlife alike, collisions can also have a strong impact on biodiversity, particularly among endangered species that are at risk of disappearing altogether. Unfortunately, the means to better understand and address WVC issues are considerably impeded, first, by the limited availability of quality data, information, and resources for researchers and practitioners and, second, by the existence of few educational road safety resources for the public (Vanlaar et al. 2012b).
In an effort to gauge the full extent of the gaps in research and information, in 2012 State Farm Canada contracted the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) to investigate the matter further as a first step towards addressing it. A two-part study was carried out:
- part 1 consisted of a literature review of existing data and information regarding wildlife-vehicle collisions; and,
- part 2 consisted of a feasibility study to determine the parameters to create an online clearinghouse.
Part 1. The literature review that was completed (see Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions in Canada: A Review of the Literature and a Compendium of Existing Data Sources (Vanlaar et al. 2012a)) revealed that, among other issues, the lack of a centralized source of existing WVC data and information made it nearly impossible to measure the magnitude and characteristics of WVCs at national and regional levels (Vanlaar et al. 2012a). As such, it is challenging for researchers and practitioners to obtain a complete picture of WVC issues, mitigation efforts, and solutions. They also lack a common forum for sharing ideas and information. The review showed that the majority of educational and road safety information on WVCs was limited to a handful of regions and wildlife species, meaning that most Canadians lack resources that are appropriate to their locale. One of the main recommendations that emerged from this review was the creation of a WVC clearinghouse.
Part 2. TIRF then conducted a feasibility study to determine the parameters to create a clearinghouse. After extensive research and consultation, several recommendations came out of the study (see Creating a Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Clearing House in Canada: A Feasibility Study (Vanlaar et al. 2012b)) including suggestions to house various types of data, list key research studies, provide resources and materials, develop road safety tips, and create a blog. Many of these recommendations provided guidance to shape the initial development of the website.
The Wildlife Roadsharing Resource Centre (WRRC) was successfully launched in the Spring of 2014. Modeled on the concept of an information clearinghouse, the purpose is to help fill gaps in WVC information, data, and resources that are needed by practitioners, researchers, and the public to help reduce and prevent WVCs. The two primary goals of the clearinghouse are to:
- Provide a centralized source of information, data, tools, and products relevant to the needs of researchers/practitioners in the road safety, ecology, and environmental industries; and,
- Provide useful information, tools, and resources that will assist and educate the public to better understand and prevent WVCs.
L-P Tardif & Associates Inc. (2003). Collisions Involving Motor Vehicles and Large Animals in Canada. Final Report. Ottawa, ON: Transport Canada, Road Safety Directorate.
Vanlaar, W. G. M., Gunson, K. E., Brown, S. W., and Robertson, R. D. (2012a). Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions in Canada: A Review of the Literature and a Compendium of Existing Data Sources. Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF).
Vanlaar, W. G. M., Gunson, K. E., Brown, S. W., and Robertson, R. D. (2012b). Creating a Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Clearing House in Canada: A Feasibility Study.Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF).