European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 67–72 | Cite as

Use of passages across a canal by wild mammals and related mortality

  • Salvador PerisEmail author
  • Javier Morales
Original Paper


From 1993–1998, we monitored a 24.1-km long concrete water canal in northern Spain for drowned mammals. Along the canal, 14 concrete bridges and 9 small bridges permitted crossing by humans and livestock. Our objective was to test whether those bridges could be used as passages for wild animals to prevent drowning. We used tracks recorded in sand on bridges to identify species passing. Of the bridges, 65% were used by wild mammals; the 9 small bridges accounted for 57% of crossings by wild animals. Wild and domestic canids (Canis lupus, C.l. domesticus, Vulpes vulpes) were the main users (85%), followed by wild ungulates (mainly wild boar, Sus scrofa) at 71% of the crossings. Proximity to a mountain slope did not increase crossing in deer species, but did not hinder wild boars, foxes and wolves from doing so. Up to 88.1% of the wild mammalian species selected passages that were close to scrubland or forest. Of the drowned animals observed, 70% were dogs and livestock. More roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) drowned than other species, and 73% drowned between April and October. Throughout the year, 6.5% of wild boars fell into the canal . Foxes were the main species crossing the canal, but accounted for only 2.1% of drowned species. We recommend that the following action should be taken to reduce drowning: (1) bridges that are simpler and rustic in design should be constructed and (2) water catchments should be dug into the forest to provide water, so that animals do not need to use the canal as a water source or need to cross it to reach the river.


Wild mammals Drowning Water canal Passages Northern Spain 



E. Pedraza and the forest guards Mikel and Pedro helped in fieldwork. E. García (Environmental Service) gave permission to work in the area. Two anonymous referees made valuable comments on this manuscript. The study was funded by Iberdrola and the project Feder 1FD97-1468. This research complies with the current Spanish environmental legislation.


  1. Ballon P (1984) Premières observations sur l’efficacité des passages à gibier sur l’autoroute A36. Bulletin Mensuel de l’Office National de la Chasse 76:20–24Google Scholar
  2. Boutin JM, Gaillard JM, Delorme D, Van Laere G, Doitran BB, Bodard S (1992) Home ranges and movements of roe deer fawns (Capreolus capreolus). In: Spitz F, Janeau G, Gonzalez G, Aulagnier S (eds) Ongulés/Ungulates ‘91. IRGN-INRE, Toulouse, pp 267–269Google Scholar
  3. Costa L (1992) Una propuesta de gestión cinegética para el corzo en el Norte de Espańa. Ecología 6:165–186Google Scholar
  4. Costa L (1995) First data on the size of North-Iberian roe bucks (Capreolus capreolus). Mammalia 59(3):447–451Google Scholar
  5. Curatolo JA, Murphy SM (1986) The effects of pipelines, roads, and traffic on the movements of caribou, Rangifer tarandus. Can Field Nat 100:218–224Google Scholar
  6. Désiré G, Mallet C (1991) T.V.G. atlantique: ouvrages de franchissement pour les ongulés et gestion de leurs abords. Bull Mensuel Office Natl Chasse 159:40–45Google Scholar
  7. Foster ML, Humphrey SR (1995) Use of highway underpasses by Florida panthers and other wildlife. Wildl Soc Bull 23:95–100Google Scholar
  8. Krausman PR, Leopold, BD, Rautenstrauch KR, Morgat JR, Etchberger RC (1992) Desert mule deer mortality and the Central Arizona Project. In: Brown RD (ed) The biology of deer. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 43–47Google Scholar
  9. Koubek P (1995) Home range dynamics and movement of roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in a floodplain forest. Folia Zool 44(3):215–226Google Scholar
  10. Mader HJ (1984) Animal habitat isolation by roads and agricultural fields. Biol Conserv 29:81–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Morales J, Peris S, Pedraza E (2000) Utilización de pasos específicos de fauna y mortandad asociada en un canal de los páramos del Norte de Espańa (Guardo, Palencia). Galemys 12(1):25–40Google Scholar
  12. Paquet PC, Gibeau ML, Herrero S, Jorgenson J, Green J (1994) Wildlife corridors in the Bow River Valley, Alberta: a strategy for maintaining well-distributed, viable populations of wildlife. A report to the Bow River Valley Corridor Task Force, AlbertaGoogle Scholar
  13. Pedraza E, Peris S, Morales J (2002) El impacto sobre los ungulados de los canales de la comarca de Guardo (Palencia). Medio Ambiente en Castilla-León 17:36–42Google Scholar
  14. PMVC-CODA (Proyecto Mortalidad Vertebrados Carreteras–Coordinadora Defensa Aves) (1993) Millones de animales mueren atropellados cada año en las carreteras españolas. Quercus 83:12–19Google Scholar
  15. Rautenstrauch KR, Krausman PR (1989) Preventing mule deer drowning in the Mohawk canal, Arizona. Wildl Soc Bull 17(3):281–286Google Scholar
  16. Rodriguez A (1999) Efectos de las carreteras sobre la fauna: un enfoque ecológico. In: Actas de Jornada Técnica y Debate sobre Fauna y Carreteras. Asociación Técnica de Carreteras, Madrid, pp 5–21Google Scholar
  17. Rodriguez A, Crema G (2000) Las infraestructuras lineales y su efecto barrera sobre los vertebrados. Quercus 167:22–27Google Scholar
  18. Rodriguez A, Crema G, Delibes M (1996) Use of non-wildlife passages across a high-speed railway by terrestrial vertebrates. J Appl Ecol 33:1257–1540Google Scholar
  19. Rodriguez A, Crema G, Delibes M (1997) Factors affecting crossing of red foxes and wildcats through non-wildlife passages across a high-speed railway. Ecography 20:287–294Google Scholar
  20. Rodriguez JL (1993) Guía de campo de los mamíferos terrestres de España. Omega, BarcelonaGoogle Scholar
  21. Rosell C, Velasco JM (1999) Manual de prevenció i correcció dels impactes de les infraestructures viàries sobre la fauna. Generalitat de Catalunya, BarcelonaGoogle Scholar
  22. Rosell C, Fernández-Llario P, Herrero J (2001) El jabalí (Sus scrofa Linnaeus, 1758). Galemys 13(2):1–26Google Scholar
  23. Rost GR, Bailey JA (1979) Distribution of mule deer and elk in relation to roads. J Wildl Manage 43:634–641Google Scholar
  24. Saenz de Buruaga M, Costa L, Purroy FJ (1991) Distribution and abundance of three wild ungulates in the Cantabrian mountains of northern Spain. In: Perzanowski B, Regelin B (eds) Global trends in wildlife management. Jagielloinan University, Krakow, pp 627–630Google Scholar
  25. San José C, Lovari S, Ferrari N (1997) Grouping in roe deer: an effect of habitat openness or cover distribution. Acta Theriol 42 (2): 235–239Google Scholar
  26. Singer F, Doherty J (1985) Managing mountain goats at a highway crossing. Wildl Soc Bull 13:469–477Google Scholar
  27. Teerink BJ (1991) Hair of west-European mammals. Atlas and identification key. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  28. Tellería JL, Virgós E (1997) Distribution of an increasing roe deer population in a fragmented Mediterranean landscape. Ecography 20(3):247–252Google Scholar
  29. Traverso JM, Álvarez A (2000) Mortalidad de vertebrados en el “Canal de las Dehesas”. Quercus 167:28–30Google Scholar
  30. Tull JC, Krausman PR (2001) Use of a wildlife corridor by desert mule deer. Southwest Nat 46(1):81–86Google Scholar
  31. Vincent JP, Bideau E, Quere JP, Angibault JM (1983) Occupation de l’espace chez le Chevreuil (Capreolus capreolus). 2. Cas des femelles. Acta Oecol/Oecol Appl 4:379–389Google Scholar
  32. Yanes M, Velasco JM, Suarez F (1995) Permeability of roads and railways to vertebrates: the importance of culverts. Biol Conserv 71:217–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento Biología Animal, Facultad de BiologíaUniversidad de SalamancaSalamancaSpain

Personalised recommendations