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Kootenay National Park

Highway 93 South - Wildlife Crossing Project © Parks Canada

Improving safety for people and wildlife

Reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions while keeping habitat connected is a priority for Kootenay National Park. 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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Project Goals

  • Increase motorist safety by reducing the risk of wildlife-vehicle collisions. These collisions put motorists at risk of injury or death. 
  • Reduce the number of animals that are killed or injured. Wildlife-vehicle collisions in Kootenay National Park have been a growing hazard for motorists and animals. From 2003 to 2012, park staff recorded over 500 large animal deaths along the park’s highway. Even more wildlife-vehicle collisions are unreported. 
  • Reduce habitat fragmentation. The highway runs through the middle of the park. Wildlife populations need to be able to move safely across this busy highway to access critical habitat (food, mates and shelter) and to connect with other populations. Vehicle noise and highway related habitat loss can make some animals reluctant to cross or even approach a road.

Wildlife underpass on Highway 93 South in Kootenay National Park Remote camera image of wolves using an underpass in Kootenay National Park
Left: Wildlife crossing structures, like this underpass, are designed to connect vital habitats and allow safe movement of animal populations across the highway. Right: This wolf pack has been using the new underpasses in Kootenay National Park. © Parks Canada

Creating a world class solution

Fencing and wildlife underpasses have been built near the Dolly Varden picnic site. This area was chosen because it has a high number of wildlife-vehicle collisions. White-tailed deer are involved in 75% of collisions. Elk, moose, wolves, fox, and coyote have also been killed in this area.

The Kootenay National Park Wildlife Crossing project benefits from 19 years of research on fencing and crossing structures along the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park. This research proves that vehicle-wildlife collisions can be dramatically reduced by blocking wildlife access to the highway and providing safe ways for them to cross.

Four million dollars was allocated for the initial phase of the Wildlife Crossing Project. Funding has been announced for the next phase of the project.

The project

Map of fencing and wildlife underpasses on Highway 93 South The wildlife fencing and underpasses are in a "hot spot" for wildlife-vehicle collisions on Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park.
© Parks Canada

The first phase of this project, implemented in 2013, included 4.7 km of wildlife exclusion fencing, one large elliptical and two smaller concrete box culvert underpasses. Along the fence, animal jump-outs and gates for human access and wildlife management have been installed. At the fence ends, boulders and concrete barriers have been placed to deter animals from entering the fenced area.

Parks Canada has implemented other measures to reduce road-related wildlife mortality, such as designing and deploying new wildlife crossing signs when animals are frequenting roadside areas, and using roadside light boards to warn drivers to slow down when wildlife is present.

Monitoring the effectiveness of the three underpasses has begun. The structures have been used regularly by white-tailed deer, occasionally by wolves, and sporadically by moose, mule deer and black bear. Wildlife have begun adjusting to the fencing and structures, with no incursions into the fenced highway recorded in 2014.

During 2014, there were 24 confirmed wildlife mortalities of large and medium-sized mammals on Highway 93S in the park. The 10-year average annual mortality on the highway is 53.

Future wildlife-vehicle collision reduction projects

In August 2014 the Government of Canada announced that $9.6 million has been allocated to the extend Highway 93S Wildlife Crossing Project with additional fencing and underpasses. These crossing structures are essential to maintain wildlife habitat connectivity in the Kootenay Valley. Planning and initial design work for phase two was completed in 2014.

Improved visitor experiences

The wildlife crossing project is part of a broader area planning initiative for Highway 93 South that will also yield improvements to visitor facilities and learning opportunities.

Keeping you informed

Information and updates on the Wildlife Crossing Project in Kootenay National Park will be posted here.

Alternately you can contact:
Darren Quinn
Wildlife Crossing Project Manager
Phone: (250) 347-6155

A black bear crossing the road
A black bear crossing the road in Kootenay National Park © Parks Canada

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