A Willoughby woman who has spent months urging Township council to act on building habitat corridors to reduce the number of animals killed by cars, has offered a solution if the cost is an issue: Township council’s recently enlarged compensation package.
Based on a formula established several years ago, council received an automatic pay increase on Dec. 1, 2011, giving Mayor Jack Froese a salary of $105,456, up from $93,724, and councillors $42,936, up from $36,043.
In an email to Councillor Steve Ferguson, Dr. Patricia Tallman said that more than half the recorded roadkill in Willoughby is along 208 Street.
While much development hugs this major north-south route, large adjacent tracts remain undeveloped.
As buildings and blacktop swallow up more of this land, the need for more wildlife tunnels grows.
“If cost is a concern, I strongly suggest that the Township has a business audit performed to cut out waste, as well as reconsidering compensation packages to reflect current economic reality,” she said.
Ferguson acknowledged that “more and more wild animals are causing concerns in our neighbourhoods.” Raccoons rummaging through people’s garbage are among the problems, he noted.
As to an audit, “our budgets and finances are audited every year,” Ferguson said.
“We have a very strong financial structure with very little waste.”
The increased salaries which he and his council colleagues receive will make no difference.
“If you mean the compensation packages to councillors . . . we could receive nothing and it would have little to no impact on taxes,” Ferguson told Tallman.
Tallman said that roadkill is simply a symptom of the underlying issue, that is, encroachment of development into previously undeveloped land.
More wild animals are being dispersed from their homes without consideration for relief habitat, so they go elsewhere, she said. Neither development nor the Township which controls it provides habitat relief, she added.
Tallman has asked council to implement a four-pronged approach to protecting wildlife from the conflicts they face when chased from their homes. These are public awareness, which include a monitoring program and putting out information to the public and development site workers, an excavation protocol to maximize chances of survival for existing wildlife, provision of more habitat that could include small pockets of land and tunnels under roads such as 80 Avenue and 208 Street, and a policy that would help wildlife disperse in the direction of established relief habitat space.
Council has not responded to her request.
Tallman pointed out that research in the U.S. proves that culverts and tunnels work. Motion detection cameras set up in culverts in several mid-Atlantic states showed that culverts intended to channel water away from roads are also being used by animals to avoid crossing roads.