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Wildlife monitoring program may reduce highway collisions

A research project is underway with the goal of improving wildlife management and reducing animal and vehicle collisions along Highway 3.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is partnering up with Miistakis Institute and the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute to monitor wildlife movement across the highway.

NCC officials said the data will help inform future wildlife management strategies and reduce highway accidents.

“Highway 3 is situated within a low-elevation valley where opportunities for wildlife movement are limited due to roads, development and human activity. Wildlife that attempts to cross the highway risk mortality and injury and pose a significant safety concern for people that live in and travel through the region,” said the NCC.

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So far, researchers have observed ungulate species, such as elk, deer, moose and bighorn sheep and carnivores, including bears, wolves, wolverines and cougars travelling through the corridor.

The program, called Linking Landscapes, will use cameras that have been installed along the Jim Prentice Wildlife Corridor in the Crowsnest Pass, which includes Rock Creek at the edge of the corridor.

According to the NCC, the cameras work 27/7 in all weather conditions and can be triggered by movement.

“Remote cameras are a great way to monitor wildlife and engage the local community in conservation science. We can learn so much about how wildlife is using the landscape. But the number of images can quickly become overwhelming – the public can meaningfully contribute here by classifying images to species,” said Tracy Lee with the Miistakis Institute.

According to the NCC, tracking animal movement through the region will help inform future conservation and stewardship needs, resulting in maintaining healthy wildlife populations.

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