Wildlife impacts of Highway #1 development

Photo: Steve Harvey

Submitted by Meg Langley

Wildsight Golden has been active in asking for measures to reduce the amount of wildlife mortality resulting from the current TransCanada #1 Phase 4 Project. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) agreed to install 2 mobile and 2 permanent overhead signs with programable messages. The mobile signs had been promised without delivery but will now be placed according to locations provided by Wildsight Golden and collected as part of Wildsight Golden’s Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Project. Monitoring highway mortality going forward will be important in order to ask for other mitigating measures if mortalities are found to increase as a result of the diversion.

MOTI also agreed to install lights around the 2 existing bighorn sheep signs and will assess their impact on driver behaviour. Their findings to date indicate that the lighted signs near Radium do not change driver behaviour so this will be an important trial for lights in the Kicking Horse Canyon.

A critical piece of the highway and wildlife puzzle are the fences which line more and more highways. It is MOTI policy to place one-way gates and jump-outs at 500 m. intervals to give animals which might get stuck on the highway, from a broken fence for example, to get away from the highway. Much to everyone’s amazement, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are able to open the gates from the back and jump-up the jump outs, thereby gaining access to the highway and the various incentives it holds (easy travel, water, food, minerals). The same structures will be installed in the new fencing after construction and bighorn sheep will continue to access Highway # 1 with vehicles travelling 100kms/hr. Ideas for solutions are always welcome!