Wildlife and roads: awreness-raising events on the dangers of road collisions with wildlife
During the summer of 2023, the Cottian Alps Protected Areas and the Metropolitan City of Turin launched an important communication and awareness-raising campaign on fauna and the road network in the Susa Valley. The initiative, developed within the LIFE WolfAlps EU project is part of the collaboration with the LIFE Safe-crossing for the prevention of collisions between vehicles and wild animals, aimed at reducing dangers to humans and animals. With a view to a broader activity that will be continued in the coming months, three public meetings were organised between July and August – in Oulx on 14 July, in Avigliana on 17 July and in Sauze d’Oulx on 24 August – in which the staff of the two bodies illustrated data, the results of inspections and analyses of the main critical issues in the area, providing a knowledge base on the best prudence strategies for one’s own safety and for reducing the loss of biodiversity caused by vehicle traffic.
This is a real problem, both at a national level, since in 2022 alone there were 16 victims of animal impact, and at a regional level, where Piedmont ranks second in terms of the number of serious road accidents involving wildlife. The figures are growing slightly and steadily over time, caused by the increase in vehicle traffic and speed along with the increase in wildlife density. In particular, the phenomenon mainly concerns ungulates, which have a wider geographical spread and cause more damage due to their size, but it is also extending to large carnivores, mainly bears and wolves, of which it represents a threat to species conservation. Thanks to the direct experience gathered in the field by park rangers and Metropolitan City staff, detailed information was provided on some of the most at-risk roads and junctions on which most accidents in the Susa Valley are concentrated.
With the end of summer, the aim is to increase opportunities to broaden the awareness work to younger groups of motorists. On the other hand, statistically there are more accidents precisely in the seasons in between, typically in the autumn when the fauna lowers in altitude and the hours of darkness lengthen, which for animals are the time of greatest activity and mobility. Municipalities, high schools and driving schools are therefore invited to contact the Cottian Alps Parks to plan meetings and presentations.
The work carried out by the project partners under Action C6 is supported by the Fondazione Capellino, an independent, non-profit organisation, which, as co-funder of the project, contributes to the development of the various LIFE actions.