MADRID – In Spain, more animals are killed by traffic than by hunting. A new law has to change this. The road accidents are a problem for the survival of many animal species. Furthermore, these collisions are also a danger to motorists.
The road safety committee of the Spanish Congress of Deputies approved a bill on Monday from the Confederal Parliamentary Group Unidas Podemos. The bill, En Comú Podem-Galicia en Común is for the construction of eco-pipelines or wildlife crossings. And also for taking additional measures to ‘reduce animal deaths caused by road traffic’.
The proposal received 18 votes in favour and none against, although the PP abstained. Congress urged the government to ‘map out those parts of Spanish roads where there are most accidents involving wild animals. Especially where the number of accidents involving Iberian lynx and wolves and other protected species continues to increase’.
This list must be drawn up within the year. In addition, it is planned to create ‘controlled crossings’ and diversions, with warning signs. This will allow drivers to exercise extreme caution to increase human and animal safety.
Threat to biodiversity
‘The number of animals being hit on the roads poses a huge threat to biodiversity worldwide. Because it involves the loss of a large amount of wildlife, including indigenous species and exotic species,’ Unidas Podemos spokesman Juantxo Lopez de Uralde said in a statement. ‘These kinds of misdeeds have surpassed even hunting as a direct cause of human mortality of terrestrial vertebrates in the last 30 years’.
Lynxes and wolves
Lopez de Uralde expressed particular concern about the Iberian lynx and the wolf. He referred to data from the WWF showing that 35 lynx died in collisions in Spain in 2019. In 2020, there were already 32 by August. The bill calls for the implementation, within a maximum of three months, of previously signed agreements within the Iberlince project for the protection of lynx and actions already announced in 2015.
According to the Lobo Marley association, 81 recorded and documented deaths of wolves on Spanish roads between 2011 and 2020
The Spanish Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (Miteco) recently launched the Stop Atropellos de Fauna Española (SAFE) Plan. This is an initiative to evaluate animal deaths caused by road accidents. And, furthermore, to collect figures on the mortality of vertebrate species on Spanish roads.
During this citizen science project, volunteers involved choose a route that they will travel by bike, on foot or by car. They must do this at least once a month for a year to record all the animals that are run over. To do this properly, the voluntary commitment of many people is needed. The aim is to map out which animal species are affected most and which factors are most influential in collisions.
The project is being developed by the Doñana Biological Station (EBD-CSIC). They are working together with three scientific associations. These are;
- AHE, the Spanish Herpetological Society (main body for amphibians and reptiles in Spain)
- the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/BirdLife)
- the Spanish Society for the Conservation and Study of Mammals (SECEM).
Together, they want to mobilise their volunteers to provide figures on road mortality of vertebrate species. Earlier research showed that at least 30 million animals die every year due to an accident involving a car. This includes about 9 million amphibians (mainly frogs and toads), 4 million reptiles, 12 million birds and 5 million mammals. It also includes dogs, cats, wild boar, rabbits, deer and the Iberian lynx.
In addition, the longer road victims’ bodies are left on the road or even on the verge, the greater the chance that predators or scavengers will come and eat them. Which, in turn, can cause further accidents or incidents.