Work-in-progress to reduce wolf collisions along the railway and roads in Alta Valle di Susa
Among the planned measures the installation of nets, obligatory passages in subways and awareness campaign.
Reducing the fragmentation of the habitats populated by the wolf and the mortality caused by vehicular traffic, recovering particularly problematic areas such as the Upper Susa Valley: this is the aim of Action C6 carried out by the specialised Department for the Protection of Fauna and Flora of the Metropolitan City of Turin within the framework of the LIFE WolfAlps EU project, which outlines a series of coordinated actions to improve the coexistence between the wolf and human activities in the Alpine area. The data collected in the last 20 The data collected over the last 20 years confirm the presence of a wolf sink area in the Upper Susa Valley, where mortality is so high as to represent a potential problem for the conservation of the wolf population in the Alps. In the area, already object of studies and interventions by the Metropolitan City of Turin, there is a real “ecological trap”, due to the high number of accidents involving the wolf, but also its prey species, which are hit by vehicles and railway trains.
Before any action was planned, a study of the ecological corridors in the valley was carried out in 2020 and the most critical points were identified. In 2021, in close collaboration with the infrastructure managers, ANAS, RFI and SITAF, numerous inspections were carried out to identify solutions to reduce the number of accidents and reduce fatalities at the various critical points.
With regard to the Turin-Modane railway line in the municipalities of Chiomonte and Exilles, where there are several critical points, it was decided to work on the safety of crossing the railway lines by wildlife, making the most of the already existing underground passages. In this section the railway line alternates inaccessible stretches, because they are in tunnels or on viaducts or delimited by high retaining walls, with easily accessible stretches because they are located on the ground level. It was therefore decided to intervene in the vicinity of five underground passages/drainages, of a size also suitable for the transit of medium-large wildlife, characterised by the fact that the railway tracks in the vicinity are easily accessible. At these sites, nets will be placed along the railway to prevent wildlife from accessing the railway lines and to force animals to use the existing passages/drainages.
Between Oulx and Savoulx there is an ecological barrier represented by the motorway and the railway, which run parallel. There are two pairs of aligned underground passages – one under the railway and one under the A32 – but on one of these it is not possible to intervene due to hydrogeological issues, while the second has already been cleaned: waste and sediment deposited by the Dora Riparia have been removed and vegetation has been cut back to increase visibility.
Finally, the motorway fence has been checked, and two sections have been identified that need to be fenced off to prevent wildlife from entering the road.
In view of the construction of a roundabout on State Road 24 at Oulx in the Moretta locality, the Metropolitan City of Turin has asked to be part of the design group, to ensure that the design includes the necessary measures to protect wildlife.
For the rest of the state road network, a plan has been proposed for measures compatible with the Highway Code, which is currently being approved by ANAS. Three types of intervention have been proposed on State roads 24 and 335: signs warning of possible wildlife crossing with reinforcement lights, blue reflectors and the creation of openings along the guard rails. In parallel with the technical measures, an awareness campaign for road users will be proposed.
The complete document can be downloaded here.