Bridge of Life


"Bridge of Life"

All scientific studies conducted in the UK in the last 20 years point out that statistically the main reason of unnatural deaths in the red squirrel population are traffic accidents. These statistics are frightening as they show that – depending on the study and the area – from 26% to 88% of unnatural deaths of red squirrels are the result of road traffic accidents. (Shuttleworth 2001, Dutton 2004, LaRose et al. 2010, Simpson et al. 2013).
The aim of the Action "Bridge of Life" is, if not a complete elimination of this cause of unnatural deaths among red squirrels, then at least its substantial reduction.
Due to the fact that until today realistically[1] nothing is being done in the UK about this most significant reason of unnatural deaths of red squirrels, we rely mostly on the experience of squirrel conservationists from other countries who have achieved great results for many years by using the methods discussed below.
Proven solutions suggested by us not only have significant effect on reducing red squirrels mortality but most of all are one of the most economic methods to increase their population.
Main goals of our action:
1. Raise public awareness – and especially force the actions of red squirrel conservation groups (financed with our taxes and/or voluntary donations) who for unclear for us reasons practically ignore[1] in their actual activities this serious and known for decades problem – of high red squirrels mortality as result of traffic accidents. We suggest for organised groups, private individuals and organisations to use ready, proven and cheap solutions that would help reduce traffic related squirrels mortality in their area.
2. Encourage building as many safe aerial crossings as possible especially in places where statistically most red squirrels die due to traffic ("black spots").

3. Introduction of changes in the laws related to road construction investments – mainly in the areas inhabited by protected animals – that would require from the investor already at the planning stage (new road construction, repair works on existing ones) to organise the work in such a way that would allow protected wild animals to safely cross the road. It shouldn't be cause for concern – it doesn't have to increase the investment costs and can build the positive image of the investor in the local society. 

4. In the areas where for various reasons it is not possible to provide protected animals with safe crossings (above or under the road) – implementation of necessary strategies to prevent animals from trying to cross the road (deterring) - and at the same time safe relocation of existing populations "far from heavy traffic roads" by improving the quality of habitats in places distant from such roads combined with monitored removal of habitats which are too close to dangerous roads.
Below we'd like to present a few examples of solutions successfully used around the world.

Longview, Washington

Arizona, Mount Graham
Belgium, Brecht
(cost of building the bridge €250!)
Netherlands, The Hague
Netherlands, Amsterdam
Germany, Berlin
Germany, Vlotho
Japan, Obihiro & Sapporo:
Hisashi Yanagawa: "Traffic accidents involving the red squirrel and measures to prevent such accidents in Obihiro City, Hokkaido, Japan". April 30, 2005
[1] By saying "actual or real activities" we mean construction of physical crossings for animals using the funds received by conservation groups from our taxes or public donations. Current activities of so called "red squirrel conservation groups" can be hardly called – in this matter – even "cosmetic". We should realise that in the last 20 years millions of pounds were spent in the UK without a slightest problem for barbaric and pointless killing of grey squirrels. During the same time finding less than 100 thousands of pounds to install a few hundred of bridges for red squirrels in the areas with the highest population mortality – due to road traffic accidents – until today seems to be an unsolvable problem. As a reminder, statistically over ten times more of red squirrels die hit by a car than from pox infection.

  • Dutton, C. (2004) The Red Squirrel. Redressing the Wrong. Report to the European Squirrel Initiative
  • LaRose, J.P., Meredith, A.L., Everest, D.J., Fiegna, C., McInnes, C.J., Shaw, D.J. & Milne, E.M. (2010) Epidemiological and postmortem findings in 262 red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) in Scotland. 2005 to 2009, Veterinary Record 167: 297-302
  • Shuttleworth, C.M. (2001) Traffic related mortality in a red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) population receiving supplemental feeding. Urban Ecosystems, 5: 109-118
  • Simpson, V.R., Hargreaves, J., Butler, H.M., Davison, N.J. & Everest, D.J. (2013) Causes of mortality and pathological lesions observed post-mortem in red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) in Great Britain. BMC Veterinary Research, 9: 229