Elk Valley directors kibosh carcass consideration
A bid by City of Fernie Mayor Ange Qualizza to have road kill carcasses deposited at the Sparwood Landfill was shot down by fellow Elk Valley Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board members March 8.
RDEK staff was tasked in February with finding options to get road kill carcass pits off the landscape and into RDEK facilities, as initiated by Fernie’s mayor.
The regional board March 7 and 8 spent time chewing over a report by RDEK Environmental Services Manager Kevin Paterson that notes four current “bone pits” or sites where the highways maintenance contractor disposes of road killed animals in the East Kootenay, which number about 1,600 a year.
The four bone pit locations are Hardie Creek Forest Service Road, west of Columere Park, Spring pit Lake near Elko, Olsen pit near Hosmer and the Fort Steele Interchange (old highway).
Paterson reported the Central Subregion Landfill accepts road kill without fee, as previously requested the RDEK board, and when used by the contractor eliminates the need for bone pits at the Ft. Steele interchange and Spring Lake pit south of Elko.
The board could eliminate that financial barrier thus allowing the contractor to use the Columbia Valley Landfill as opposed to the Hardie Creek bone pit, he said.
The Sparwood Landfill, which is fully electrified and bear-proofed, is not permitted to take carcasses, Paterson reported, adding if it was it would eliminate the need for the Olsen bone pit north of Hosmer.
After reviewing the report, Mayor Qualizza March 8 made a motion for the RDEK to apply to the Ministry of Environment for a permit to allow road kill carcasses to be deposited at the Sparwood Landfill.
District of Sparwood Mayor and board director David Wilks told the board the district has a history with black and grizzly bear visits to town.
“In the 80s and 90s we had an extreme challenge with bears,” he said, noting that was when the landfill was bear proofed.
The Olsen pit was recognized as a location far enough away from Fernie, Hosmer and Sparwood and since road kill has been dropped there the bears stopped hanging around the Sparwood landfull, Wilks said, adding he doesn’t want the problem to return.
Electoral Area A Director Mike Sosnowski agreed. “That would be a huge attractant to Sparwood,” he said.
Electoral Area B Director Stan Doehle said bone pits are also attractants and those living near them have to deal with the influx of bears.
“These pits don’t work. The Olsen pit is like a highway for the bears,” he said, adding the region should study other areas for ideas on how road kill is disposed.
The vote came down to Elk Valley directors only, excluding Doehle.
Qualizza voted in favour, with District of Elkford Mayor Dean McKerracher, Mayor Wilks and Director Sosnowski opposed.
– Ian Cobb/e-KNOW