Local environmental organization Wildsight has partnered with Yellowstone to Yukon and the Miistakis Institute to release an infographic about wildlife collisions and remediation in the Elk Valley.
The infographic summarizes over a decade of research into wildlife deaths on Highway 3 into an easy to read and understand format.
“The Elk Valley is the heart of a critical wildlife corridor that connects animals across borders and mountain ranges,” scientist Clayton Lamb explained. “Over 60 per cent of B.C.’s reported grizzly bear collisions occur in southeast B.C., despite this area making up only three per cent of the province’s grizzly bear range.”
Research conducted over the past decade has found that traffic on Highway 3 is up about 24 per cent in the past 10 years, with an increase in use by large transport trucks. This combination of more and larger vehicles has led to an increase in wildlife collisions and fatalities.
“In the Elk Valley, vehicle collisions cause 25 per cent of elk mortalities and 30 per cent of grizzly bear mortalities,” Lamb said. “We can nearly eliminate these collisions with crossing structures and fencing.”
These wildlife saving projects are highlighted in the infographic, which strives to combine important information into a visually appealing communication. Much of the information in the graphic is taken from a report originally completed in 2010 and updated to reflect the current situation in 2019.
“Summarizing years’ worth of data on a single page, the infographic brings into sharp focus the way forward that considers wildlife protections for highway infrastructure,” said Randal Macnair, Wildsight conservation coordinator for the Elk Valley.
The new Lizard Creek bridge in Fernie is one example of highway infrastructure being developed with wildlife safety in mind. The new project will feature wildlife crossings on both sides of the creek. The Jaffray passing lane project will also provide safer passage and connectivity for wildlife in the area by using fencing.
“These two projects are a good start to supporting wildlife connectivity in the East Kootenay,” Macnair noted. “With continued efforts on behalf of the province, industry, environmental organizations and the public we can continue this work.”
For more information or to read the Highway 3 report, visit Roadwatchbc.ca. The infographic summary can be found at Wildsight.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Hwy3Connectivity_Infosheets_PublicLayout_Wildsight.pdf.