A new pilot scheme to try to reduce the number of animals that get trapped in local roadside drains is underway in Blairgowrie.
Work to install the special ‘wildlife kerbs’ on the town’s Elm Drive was carried out near the community campus this week and pupils from Newhill Primary School saw for themselves how the project, funded by a £4,800 landfill tax grant, is progressing.
Perth and Kinross Council’s countryside rangers have been carrying out surveys on roads in East Perthshire since 2010 to help gauge how often mammals and especially amphibians like newts, toads and frogs, all of which contribute to the area’s natural biodiversity, fall into the roadside gullies.
Pupils at Newhill Primary School have helped with the survey in the area around the campus as part of their Scottish wildlife project work.
This followed previous observations during routine maintenance works by Tayside Contracts that significant numbers of trapped wildlife were found in the gullies. When animals move in large numbers, for example prior to hibernation, the drains can be a real pitfall as it is unlikely the animals will be able to escape if they fall in.
The wildlife kerbs therefore contain a recess that allows animals to follow the kerb’s lower edge and avoid the danger of the gully below. Elm Drive was chosen for the pilot as it is close to a local pond already included in the biodiversity survey, allowing the site to be compared before and after the installation of the kerbs. Previous use of similar equipment elsewhere in the UK has shown a major reduction in the number of creatures getting trapped in road drains.
Environment Convener Councillor Alan Grant joined local countryside ranger, Daniele Muir, and pupils from the school to see for themselves the newly installed kerbs. Councillor Grant said: “This is an exciting and innovative project which has been made possible through a landfill tax grant and has received a national award from the animal charity PETA. It will help us determine whether using these special kerbs can make a difference to local biodiversity by giving wildlife a safer route when on the move.”
Daniele added: “As part of the survey, once a week, working with P6 pupils, we would lift up the drain cover and count the numbers of toads, frogs and newts that we found there. We would then return the live ones back to the nearby pond.
“Now that the new wildlife kerbs have been installed, we will be carrying out the survey again and hope to see a real reduction in the numbers of animals we find that have fallen into the gullies.”