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Kootenay National Park

Highway 93 South - Wildlife Crossing Project © Parks Canada

Frequently Asked Questions

Wildlife-vehicle collisions due to increasing traffic on the highway that bisects Kootenay National Park are endangering wildlife and travelers. In 2013, 4.7 kilometres of wildlife exclusion fencing and three underpass crossing structures were constructed. A minimum of 6.5 km of additional fencing and at least four underpasses will be built in 2015. 

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What work was done?

Bears on Road Bears on Road © Parks Canada

We have fenced over 4.5 km of highway and built one large elliptical and two smaller concrete box culvert underpasses in a high wildlife-vehicle collision area within Kootenay National Park.

Other measures have been implemented to reduce road-related wildlife mortality, such as temporary speed zones, new wildlife crossing signs where animals are frequenting roadsides, and roadside light boards to warn drivers to slow down when wildlife is present.

Will the whole highway be fenced?

We are looking at future options for highway fencing and crossing structures in other areas of the park. Future phases have not been funded.

Why not use speed enforcement and education instead of fencing?

Research has shown that enforcement and education are best used to support other measures to reduce animal vehicle collisions.

Why use underpasses rather than overpasses?

Underpasses are effective wildlife crossing structures and meet the needs of animals.

Will the wildlife crossing project work?

Remote camera image of white-tailed deer using an animal underpass on Highway 93 South Kootenay's wildlife underpasses work; they improve ecosystem health and wildlife and motorist safety. © Parks Canada

Roadside fencing in other areas, including the Trans Canada Highway in Banff, has been at least 80% effective at reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions. We expect similar results for roadside fenced areas in Kootenay National Park.

Monitoring of the fencing and underpasses has begun and is verifying their effectiveness. The structures are regularly used by white-tailed deer, occasionally by wolves, and sporadically by moose, mule deer and black bear.

Will the fence impact the view?

The fence is much lower than the adjacent trees. Mountain views remain unobstructed. The disturbed land by the fence has been rehabilitated with native plants. With time, weathering will make fencing less obvious.

How much did the project cost?

The cost of engineering and construction for the first phase was four million dollars. The second phase has a budget of $9.6 million. 

Isn't this a lot of money for a few km of highway?

Measures with proven effectiveness have a cost but it is outweighed by the benefits.

Collisions with wildlife cost money too – for emergency response, hospital care, vehicle repairs, loss of wildlife and dealing with dead or injured animals. Even when no humans are injured, these accidents can be traumatic.

These crossing structures are essential to maintain wildlife habitat connectivity in the Kootenay Valley.

Why did you focus on reducing collisions with deer rather than moose or bears?

Confirmed Roadkills Kootenay National Park 2003-2012 More than 530 large and medium sized animals were confirmed killed on the highway in the decade before fences and crossing structures were built. © Parks Canada

Deer, especially white-tailed deer, are involved in the greatest number of wildlife-vehicle collisions in Kootenay National Park. Moose and bears are relatively dispersed; there is no strongly defined crossing zone involving these species. In contrast, deer congregate along predictable areas beside the highway, such as by the Dolly Varden picnic area. The project area has significant deer-vehicle collisions, however, this area has also had collisions involving elk, moose, wolves, fox, coyote and other species. Over the long term, most species will benefit from highway fencing and crossing structures.

Can’t you create better habitat further away so the deer aren't attracted to roadsides?

Parks Canada continues to plan and implement habitat restoration work. However, roadside vegetation is extremely attractive to deer during the spring, concentrating deer populations beside the unfenced highway.

Remote camera image of a bear using a jump-out to exit the fenced area of Highway 93 South 'Jump-outs' allow animals that do enter the fenced area to escape. © Parks Canada
How were fence ends handled?

To keep animals from entering the fenced areas angular boulders have been piled adjacent to the fenced ends. The rocks work best for deterring hoofed animals.

Will I be able to get through the fence?

As with the Trans-Canada Highway, we have installed pedestrian gates where needed.

Why were trees removed beside the fence?

Dead trees adjacent to the wildlife fence have been removed to protect the integrity of the fence.

How can I be kept informed?

Updates about the Kootenay National Park Wildlife Crossing Project are posted on this site. Alternatively you can contact:

Darren Quinn
Wildlife Crossing Project Manager
Phone: (250) 347-6155

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