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Uccle to install special bridges to protect squirrel population
The squirrels of Brussels generally have a decent life. After being threatened with extinction in the capital during the 1970s, the population has since recovered and expanded. Threats remain, however, such as the dangers which can come from the city’s busy roads. This is why Brussels Environment is encouraging municipalities to build special squirrel bridges in locations where the most animal fatalities are recorded.
The municipality of Uccle recently announced that it will build three such bridges in its territory to better connect the green spaces of the Plateau Avijl and the Parc Fond'Roy. There will be bridges over the intersections between the Regentuin, Chaussée de Saint-Job and Kinsendael and above the Avenue Circulaire.
The bridges will be similar to those that were installed in Jette a few years ago. These are made up of a grid construction connected by cables, which hang between trees some five to six metres above the ground. According to Brussels Environment, which advised Uccle on the installation of the bridges, the construction cost would be several thousand euros. "Not because of the construction itself, rather because of the difficult installation, high above the ground," a spokesperson said.
In principle, this would appear to be a sound investment – as long as the squirrels actually use the bridges. At the moment, no monitoring of the current bridges takes place. "We don't have cameras hanging by the bridge in Jette," says Olivier Beck, a biologist at Environment Brussels. "They are not easy to place there, and it also takes quite a lot of time to examine the images. So, we can't put an exact figure on the number of animals using the bridges. At the Groenendaal ecoduct in the Sonian Forest, a much larger investment, there are cameras. However, based on the reduced number of dead squirrels, we can say that the bridge in Jette is also a success."
Brussels Environment calls on Brussels residents to always report sightings of hit-and-run squirrels or other animals on observations.be. On the basis of these reports, they can advise municipalities on other safety interventions for animals.