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Posted: August 18, 2022

Fencing aims to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions in region

A new wildlife fencing project in the East Kootenay will help keep people and wildlife safe from highway collisions by directing animals to safe corridors to cross Highway 3.

This work is Phase 1 of the Reconnecting the Rockies project. Reconnecting the Rockies has six phases and will develop a series of underpasses and overpasses connected by fencing that will provide wildlife with safe passage across Highway 3. The project has been designed using wildlife tracking data, locations of past collisions, and local knowledge.

“Wildlife highway collisions are a serious danger to people and animals,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “By building safe ways for wildlife to cross Highway 3, we’re making our infrastructure safer for drivers, and helping to restore connected habitat in this spectacular part of our province.”

This Phase 1 project will see approximately four kilometres of fencing installed east of Sparwood.

The fencing will guide animals to highway underpasses, which will be landscaped to make them more attractive for animals to use. This can include positioning rocks under highway bridges to form trails, which creates an easier, flatter walking surface that is more likely to be used by species, such as elk and deer. Similar projects have shown to reduce collisions with wildlife by 80% to 90%.

“Protecting wildlife in British Columbia from harm and reconnecting critical wildlife corridors in the Elk Valley are important steps in meeting the goals of the Together for Wildlife Strategy,” said Simoogit Hleek (Chief Harry Nyce Sr.) and Nancy Wilkin, co-chairs of the Ministers’ Wildlife Advisory Council. “We see this support for new fencing and crossings as a positive contribution to keeping wildlife and motorists safer.”

The location for Phase 1 was chosen because it covers four of the top eight locations where collisions with large wildlife (elk, deer, moose, bears) occur in B.C. each year. The area has also been identified as critical for wildlife connectivity at a continental scale.

“We’re excited about the Reconnecting the Rockies project, which will prevent hundreds of animal deaths every year, and make driving safer for thousands of people,” said Candace Batycki, B.C. program director, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. “Scientists have called this the mother of all wildlife corridors in North America because keeping populations of animals like grizzly bears intact and connected is critical to species survival and overall ecosystem health.”

Wilco Contractors Southwest Inc. has been awarded the project contract for $644,950. Construction is planned to begin late August. Completion is scheduled for early fall.

During construction there may be minor disruptions to highway traffic, and single-lane alternating traffic may be required. Drivers are reminded to check DriveBC for updates and construction notices.

e-KNOW file photo

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