Wildlife fence and underpass slated for Kootenay National Park

Nearly $5 million be to invested into safer
highway crossing options for animals

Phase one of a $4.88 million wildlife fencing and underpass project for Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park is slated to begin in early spring.

“Over the past decade, we have averaged 50 large animals killed on the road every year,” explained Trevor Kinley, wildlife crossing project manager for Parks Canada, during the Village of Radium Hot Springs council meeting on Wednesday, January 13. “It is a fairly major safety concern and a visitor experience issue because nobody wants to run into a dead animal or see a dead animal on the side of the road.”

Phase one of the project, which could eventually include fencing and underpasses for up to 62 kilometres of Highway 93, will begin with a three kilometre stretch of highway north of the Dolly Varden day use area of Kootenay National Park — a location prone to animal-vehicle accidents. The plan will feature 2.5-metre tall woven wire fences with a metre of chain link fencing buried underneath.

The project will also include a maximum of two culverts, which are to be constructed out of pre-cast concrete and measure between two to four metres high by seven metres wide. The project may also come with an element of electricity to keep animals off the road, Kinley added.

“We are still challenged with carnivores because bears, wolves and cougars are able to figure out how to get past Texas Gates,” he added. “We are currently experimenting with electric mats embedded in the road, which are safe for people and vehicles.”

Although the building process will be structured around non-peak travel times, some single-lane traffic situations are predicted during the build period, Kinley said. Entry points will still be made available on request.

“There will be gates for vehicle access and for people,” he said. “If anybody is aware of any spot where people like to go fishing or hiking and need to get through the fence we will put a gate in. Certainly let us know and we can probably install a gate.”

For more information on the project, please contact Trevor Kinley at trevor.kinley@pc.gc.ca.