EVALUATING TURTLE ROAD MORTALITY MITIGATION: IDENTIFYING KNOWLEDGE GAPS AND PUBLIC ATTITUDES
An evaluation was made of the strategy to mitigate road mortality of the endangered Blanding’s turtle in Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site of Canada. The strategies physical mitigation measures (speed reductions, cautionary turtle signs, and speed bumps), and social outreach measures (educational photographs) were evaluated against conservation goals. Speed radar was used to record maximum vehicle speed. All motorists exceeded posted speed limits; however, signs alone, and signs and speed bumps together significantly reduced vehicle speeds. Motorists’ observations of adult and hatchling turtle models were tested at two speeds, and two levels of education. Speed did not significantly decrease motorists’ ability to observe adult or hatchling models. Education significantly increased motorists’ ability to observe hatchling models, but not adult models. The strategy was partially successful in decreasing vehicle speed and educating motorists, but improvement is needed to meet minimum conservation goals. Increased use of signs and speed bumps are recommended to enhance physical mitigation. Social science research (a public opinion survey) is recommended to identify means to enhance social outreach by ascertaining the dominant attitudes and current level of understanding held by the public about turtles, turtle road mortality, and road mitigation. This evaluation and investigation taken together will enhance protection of turtles from road mortality, and work to foster sustainable behaviours in motorists.