Vehicles collisions with animals are expected to go down with about four kilometres of wildlife fencing being set up along Highway 3, east of Sparwood.
B.C. government officials said the fencing should help keep people and animals safe on the roadway.
“Wildlife highway collisions are a serious danger to people and animals,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “By building safe ways for wildlife to cross Highway 3, we’re making our infrastructure safer for drivers, and helping to restore connected habitat in this spectacular part of our province.”
This new fencing is Phase 1 of six in the Reconnecting the Rockies project.
The entire project will see a series of underpasses and overpasses connected by fencing, creating safe passage for local wildlife across the highway.
Phase 1 of the project will include about four kilometres of fencing along Highway 3, which will guide wildlife to landscaped highway underpasses.
“This can include positioning rocks under highway bridges to form trails, which creates an easier, flatter walking surface that is more likely to be used by species, such as elk and deer. Similar projects have shown to reduce collisions with wildlife by 80 to 90 per cent,” said B.C. Government officials.
A $644,950 contract has been awarded to Wilco Contractors Southwest Inc. for the project.
According to the province, the Phase 1 location was chosen because it covers four of the top eight spots where collisions with large animals occur in B.C. each year.
“Protecting wildlife in British Columbia from harm and reconnecting critical wildlife corridors in the Elk Valley are important steps in meeting the goals of the Together for Wildlife Strategy,” said Simoogit Hleek (Chief Harry Nyce Sr.) and Nancy Wilkin, co-chairs of the Ministers’ Wildlife Advisory Council. “We see this support for new fencing and crossings as a positive contribution to keeping wildlife and motorists safer.”
Officials also identify the area as critical for wildlife connectivity at a continental scale.
“We’re excited about the Reconnecting the Rockies project, which will prevent hundreds of animal deaths every year, and make driving safer for thousands of people,” said Candace Batycki, B.C. program director, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. “Scientists have called this the mother of all wildlife corridors in North America because keeping populations of animals like grizzly bears intact and connected is critical to species survival and overall ecosystem health.”
Construction is scheduled to begin later this month, and is expected to be finished by early fall.
Construction may cause some minor disruption to highway traffic, and occasional single-lane traffic may be necessary.