Frequently Asked Questions
Wildlife-vehicle collisions due to increasing traffic on the highway that bisects Kootenay National Park is endangering wildlife and travelers. A pilot project aimed at reducing these collisions, while keeping habitat connected, was constructed in 2013 in a priority area of the park.
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We have fenced 4.7 km of highway and established three underpasses in an area of high wildlife vehicle collisions.
The combination of fences and crossing structures has been proven as the most effective way to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, improve motorist safety, reduce wildlife mortality and improve wildlife movement across highways.
The effectiveness of this wildlife crossing project is being augmented with targeted speed enforcement and communication initiatives.
A similar treatment is recommended for about 60 km of the 94 km of Highway 93S within the park. Future phases are not yet funded.
Research has shown that enforcement and education are best used to support other measures to reduce animal vehicle collisions.
Underpasses are effective wildlife crossing structures and meet the needs of wildlife in this area.
Roadside fencing in other areas, including the Trans Canada Highway in Banff, has been shown to be at least 80% effective at reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions. We expect similar results for any fenced sections of the highway in the Kootenay National Park. We are monitoring the project to verify its effectiveness.
The fence is much lower than the surrounding trees. Mountain views remain unobstructed. The disturbed land around the fence will be rehabilitated with native grasses and plants. Over the years weathering will make fencing less obvious.
$4 million was budgeted for engineering and construction.
Measures with proven effectiveness have a cost but it is outweighed by the benefits.
Collisions with wildlife cost money too – for things like emergency response, hospital care, vehicle repairs, loss of wildlife and dealing with dead or injured animals. These costs were recently estimated at $6,600 per deer, $17,000 per elk, and $30,000 per moose. Even when there are no human injuries involved, these accidents can be traumatic.
Confirmed roadkills in Kootenay National Park 2003-2012. © Parks Canada
Deer, especially white-tailed deer, are involved in the greatest number of wildlife-vehicle collisions in Kootenay National Park. In Kootenay, moose and bears are relatively dispersed; there is no strongly defined crossing zone with heavy wildlife-vehicle collisions involving these species. In contrast, deer congregate along predictable areas beside the highway, such as by the Dolly Varden picnic area. Initially we are targeting a project area with significant deer-vehicle collisions, however, the 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.
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.
To keep animals from entering the fenced areas we piled angular boulders adjacent to the roadway and installed a line of concrete barriers between the rock and the pavement. The rocks deter hoofed animals but are less effective for carnivores or when covered in snow.
Jump-outs will allow animals that enter the fenced area to escape.
(left) ‘Jump‐outs’ allow an animal trapped between fences to escape.
(right) Angular rock is used to deter wildlife from entering the fenced area.
As with the Trans-Canada Highway, we have installed pedestrian gates where needed.
Dead trees adjacent to the wildlife fence have been removed to protect the integrity of the fence.
Information and updates on the Wildlife Crossing Project in Kootenay National Park will be posted on this site. Alternatively you can contact:
Wildlife Crossing Project Manager
Phone: (250) 347-6634