Many construction projects involve clearing heavily wooded and untouched areas, which can cause many complications, including interaction with unknown wildlife. It’s important for all companies to understand the impact their construction work can have on wildlife, not only to avoid costly issues with government regulations, but also be good stewards of the environment. Below are 12 stories from 2016 where construction projects interacted with wildlife and how each situation was handled.
Have you run into any interesting scenarios with wildlife on your job sites? Let us know in the comment section below!
You know the classic excuse that “the dog ate your homework,” but it sounds as though that old saying is getting a bit of an update. Move over, Pizza Rat, the next big thing is “Blueprint Mice.”
Like many bridges and other infrastructure throughout the world, the underground concrete tunnels of Brussels, the Capital of Belgium, are crumbling. There are currently roughly 7.1 miles of tunnels in the city and lawmakers are currently working on a plan to repair the damage. The only problem is, they can’t find the original plans to repair the damage that were created almost 30 years ago, in 1989. The city is blaming the tunnel mice for feasting on them.
Peculiarly, the department that handled roads for the city didn’t have an office back when the original plans were completed, so they just stored the plans under the viaduct that connected the Liege motorway and the boulevard Reyes. In 2009, twenty years later, when the department finally sent someone to look for the plans, they were nowhere to be found and their only explanation is that they were eaten by mice.
The residents of Brussels are not pleased with the department, because they are feeling the wrath of the traffic jams caused by the lack of available tunnels. Without those old plans, officials think the renovation project will delayed for a long time. Total project costs to fully repair all of the tunnels are estimated to be North of $1.12 billion (€1 billion).
I guess this is just one more reason to start moving to electronic construction documents. Laptops and tablets probably don’t digest as smoothly as delicious paper.
Even though construction equipment is extremely heavy and extremely powerful, with the right operator in the cab, the machines can be as soft and nurturing as a pillow. Heck, who would have ever thought they would see someone fully assemble and dress a hot dog with an excavator? Turns out, excavators can also save animals’ lives.
According to Storyful, who posted the video to Youtube, Bill Davis was alerted that an intruder was on his site. When he got there to investigate, he found a young deer almost fully covered in a patch of deep mud. Thinking on his feet, Bill and a colleague got to work with a nearby excavator that they had on hand. After ever so gently scooping the deer up into the bucket, he was able to place it on the ground, seemingly unharmed, but clearly confused.
In an ultimate display of irony, a bird’s nest has delayed the construction of a building meant to help birds. Even more ironically, the bird that’s nesting on the site may have actually been released by the company in the past.
No matter how funny this delay may be, Bird TLC is actually a pretty noble organization. The group was formed in 1988, just one year before the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and they take in sick, injured, or orphaned birds and rehabilitate them. They are also dedicated to educating the general public to increase awareness about the human effect on wild birds.
So, as luck would have it, right when the organization started construction of their new facility near Potter Marsh, Alaska, they discovered an active eagle’s nest, which halted construction. The new building is to replace their current 25 year old building, built by a group of volunteers in 1991. The director of Bird TLC, Guy Runco, is now deciding how to proceed, whether that be a design change or getting a special permit.
This actually isn’t the first time the project has been delayed; it was originally supposed to be opened by 2006. After a series of design issues and broken partnerships, the land is currently still vacant. The construction was finally set to begin in spring, but hopefully will be back on track after the irony of the situation fades away.
There are people who spend their lives searching for Big Foot or the Lock Ness Monster, but sometimes humans only find legends when they’re not specifically looking for them. Reports have surfaced this week of a construction crew in Altamira, Para in Brazil which has apparently found the largest snake in history on their job site.
After blowing up a cave in preparation of work on the Belo Monte Dam, a HUMONGOUS 33 foot long (10m), 881 pound (400kg), and 3.2 foot diameter (1m) anaconda emerged from the darkness, according to the video description posted by Weird Animals. Although the actual dimensions of the snake have not yet been confirmed, the crew shot some video of the reptile for the world to see. It’s not known if the explosion killed the snake or if the workers killed it, but it unfortunately seems to be dead in the video.
After a giant bear reportedly got stuck in a cesspit after trying to eat dead chickens at a nearby chicken farm in Turkey, construction crews rushed to the scene to begin the rescue effort. Using a hammer attachment on an excavator, the operator chipped away at the ground and concrete in an effort to make a hole big enough for the bear to escape. As you can probably imagine, the bear wasn’t too happy about being stuck in the hole and then having a powerful robot arm coming after him, so it let out a few big growls before finally breaking free.
It was definitely impressive that the operator was able to get the bear out without harming it and I’m sure the bear will appreciate the effort more later on when it calms down. I don’t think I would have been nearly as brave as the cameraman, especially when the bear got out of the hole and looked like it wanted to devour everything in its path.
Mama Raccoon Makes a Home Inside a Construction Site
On an Ottawa, Canada construction site, workers discovered a mother raccoon who had recently given birth to a litter. Much like finding a puppy you don’t intend to keep, you probably shouldn’t name a found raccoon either. But that’s not what the crew did, as they named the mama “Jackie” and even fed her some Canadian delicacies I’ve never heard of, like Flakies and shawarmas.
It’s ok though, the crews couldn’t really do much to keep the raccoon away at that point anyway. As Orkin employee Marc Chubb told CTV News Ottawa, the mother raccoon would find her way right back into the building as soon as the workers left for the day, due to all the openings in the walls. He concluded that they would just have to wait until the babies had grown and they would most likely leave on their own accord. Interestingly, CTV also explained that Toronto is the raccoon capital of the world, with 150 raccoons per square kilometer (58 per square mile).
Full story: Mama raccoon sets up house in Ottawa construction site | CTV News Ottawa
Tiny Beach Mouse Causes Construction Delays
It seems that mice got blamed for a lot of things in 2016, as developers in Perdido Key, Florida have had many delays caused by a tiny, endangered beach mouse. Unlike other mice species, these beach mice keep to themselves, stay out of the trash, and even being a vital part of the coastal dune system, as they disperse sea oat seed. According to the Pensacola News Journal, the government has spent millions of dollars protecting the mice since they were listed as endangered in 1985.
Protecting the mice has created some pretty big headaches for those who want to build on the beach and they even affect choices related to lighting and landscaping. The city has also placed a ban on owning cats for many residents. To get a permit on 1 acre of land in the area, developers have to shell out an astonishing $100,000 to help pay for the protection of the mice and homeowners have to pay an additional $201 per year.
Full Story: Tiny Perdido Key Beach Mouse a big problem for developers | Pensacola News Journal
Endangered Bats Delay Construction
As of April 2015, The Northern Long-Eared Bat is a federally protected species after being classified as “threatened” by the US FIsh and Wildlife Service. They’ve been known to occupy areas throughout the eastern half of the United States and Canada. In August of last year, a Plaistow, New Hampshire project was delayed for several weeks after the Army Corps of Engineers determined that the bats may have been living in adjacent trees, according to the Eagle Tribune. Luckily, the bats’ habitat cycle ended after that few weeks and construction was able to continue, but it could have been much worse, especially if they were going to disturb more than an acre of land.
Full story: Aw, Bats! Threatened species may delay safety complex construction | Eagle Tribune
Construction Crews Destroy Baby Hawk Habitat
Dealing with time delays and money issues caused by animal habitats can be stressful enough, but you definitely don’t want to be destroying the habitat of animals. Not only is it illegal to disturb an active nest, it also makes for some very negative publicity for you and your company.
In St. Petersburg, Florida, crews were knocking down trees to make way for a strip mall, when they destroyed a baby hawk’s habitat, according to WFLA. Nearby business owners said they could hear the hawk whimpering looking for its nest from a tall oak tree and refusing to move.
Full story: Baby hawk now homeless after construction crews destroy habitat | WFLA
Sound Blasts Tested to Try to Keep Whales Away from Wind Farm Construction
Tests are being conducted in Iceland on a wind farm construction project to try to keep minke whales out of harm’s way. It’s a proactive and harmless approach that involves a series of amplified electronic pulses underwater. Noise caused by human activity, such as driving piles into the North Sea for the wind farm can cause hearing loss for the whales, who need to hear to communicate.
Full story: Sound blasts could keep whales away from wind farm construction | New Scientist
Three Otter Pups Found on Florida Construction SIte
During a residential driveway replacement project in Titusville, Florida, a den which housed an adult otter and three 5-week old otter pups were discovered. The adult otter ran off leaving the pups orphaned until they were picked up by the Florida Wildlife Hospital and Sanctuary, who has been caring for them.
Full story: Otter pups found at Florida construction site | Orlando Sentinel
Construction Projects Could Wipe out the Tiger Population
With less than 4,000 tigers left in existence throughout the world, activists are calling for very careful planning surrounding construction projects in Asia. The increase of planned infrastructure improvements should greatly reduce the range that tiger habitats currently have, according to a report from the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF).
According to Inhabitant, it’s very difficult to actually determine exactly where the tigers live, which creates many challenges on its own. The WWF has suggested 3 possible solutions, however, including banning construction in any area known to inhabit tigers, a zero-tolerance policy for poaching, and the incorporation of underpasses and green bridges to allow the wildlife to safely cross new roads.
Full story: Human construction projects could wipe out the world’s last wild tigers | Inhabitant