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Posted: February 3, 2022

MLA provides update on bighorn sheep safety

By Doug Clovechok

The Radium Big Horn Sheep band is on everyone’s mind right now.

The issue with sheep fatalities in the area has been with us for decades and I have been working with stakeholders to develop solutions for the past two years. While it may not be readily evident, progress is being made and concrete actions are being taken. The reality is that there is not a simple solution to this complex problem.

In November this past year, I called for a meeting to address mounting safety concerns on Highway 93 and 95 – including the Big Horn Sheep. Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Electoral Area G Director Gerry Wilkie is very much involved in the process as is the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

This meeting came to fruition February 1.

Prior to the meeting I compiled concerns I was receiving at my constituent offices in Revelstoke and Kimberley.

There were 24 participants including the Ministry of Transport, RCMP, CVSE, Parks Canada, RDEK, Columbia Shuswap Regional District, District of Invermere, Village of Radium Hot Springs, Town of Golden, Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison’s office.

The group plans to meet again prior to the planned temporary closure of Highway 1 in April.

CURRENT SITUATION

e-KNOW file photo

– Oversized yellow warning signs and Changeable Message Signs (LED) are in place.

– Salt stations have been placed a few hundred metres away but sheep are habituated to the roadways.

– Work is ongoing with Golden Rod & Gun Club to map sheep fatalities and identify patterns.

– RCMP has dramatically increased presence (more than double) resulting over three times the number of moving vehicle charges.

– CVSE presence has increased to monitor commercial transport.

– Land and geo-tech surveying and drilling have been done.

– Conceptual designs are being completed for fencing-underpass/overpass.

– Consultation and collaboration with First Nations is ongoing.

– Additional funding from the federal government is being pursued for fencing-underpass/overpass construction.

NEW INITIATIVES

– Partnership with Shuswap Indian Band, Akisq’nuk First Nation, and Mainroad East Kootenay Contracting (funded by MOTI) to place personnel at hill to monitor sheep and motorists.

Additional funding initiatives: Village of Radium is accepting donations towards the overpass project.

The Ministry of Transport recognizes the importance of reducing wildlife conflicts on this route for both motorist safety and conservation of the sheep. They are actively working to best mitigate the issue.

All of the work that is being done underlines the fact that we need a comprehensive science-based B.C. Wildlife and Habitat Strategic Plan. I look forward to working with stakeholders towards this goal.

We will post updates to our website and Facebook page as they become available.

Click here for information on what has been done to date, what is working, and what does not work.

Lead image: Bighorn committee members gather on Mile Hill south of Radium last summer. Submitted photo

– Doug Clovechok is Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA


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