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.
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Increase motorist safety by reducing the risk of wildlife-vehicle collisions. These collisions put motorists at risk of injury or death. Even when people aren’t injured in a wildlife collision, the experience can be traumatic and expensive.
Reduce the number of animals that are killed or injured. Wildlife-vehicle collisions in Kootenay National Park are a growing hazard for motorists and animals. From 2003 to 2012, park staff recorded over 500 large animal deaths along the highway through Kootenay. Many 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 to other populations. Vehicle noise and highway related habitat loss can make some animals reluctant to cross or even approach a road.
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. 75% of these collisions involve white-tailed deer. Elk, moose, wolves, fox, and coyote have also been killed in this area.
The Kootenay National Park Wildlife Crossing project benefits from 17 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.
$4 million has been allocated for constructing the initial phase of the Highway 93 South Wildlife Crossing Project.
4.7 km of wildlife exclusion fencing, one large elliptical underpass and two smaller concrete box culverts have been built for the Kootenay National Park Wildlife Crossing Project.
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.
Other measures, such as increased enforcement of speed zones, new signage, and improved communication initiatives support the project.
Researchers are now monitoring this project to verify its effectiveness.
Future wildlife-vehicle collision reduction projects
The use of wildlife exclusion fencing with crossing structures is recommended for about 60 km of the 94 km of highway within the park. Data will continue to be collected on wildlife and wildlife mortality locations along with effectiveness of existing crossing structure so we are ready to move forward when funding becomes available.
Improved visitor experiences
The wildlife crossing project is part of a broader area planning initiative for Highway 93 South that will also yield improvements in visitor facilities and learning opportunities.
Keeping you informed
Information and updates on the Wildlife Crossing Project in Kootenay National Park will be posted here.
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