Local travellers are familiar with finding cattle grazing along Westside Road, but the roaming livestock still manage to cause culture shock for many.
As a result, the Columbia Valley RCMP Detachment has been receiving a number of calls about cows being loose on Westside Road south of CastleRock Estates.
“The cows at times tend to stand or walk on the roads which can pose issues with drivers using the road,” noted Staff Sgt. Marko Shehovac in the RCMP Report released to local media on Tuesday, July 29th.
Constable Chris Ralph told The Valley Echo he’s never heard of any collisions with cows on Westside Road since he started at the local detachment in 2008, but said the cattle are reported grazing on the road a few times every year. More calls seem to accumulate in the summertime, which he suspects is due to the influx in tourism, he said.
Similar to open areas in the Kootenay National Park, most of the area surrounding Westside Road are not fenced, allowing animals to cross wantonly. Cattleguards prevent the livestock from crossing into the southern limits of the District of Invermere and also from reaching Highway 93/95 in Fairmont Hot Springs at the south end of the road.
“Westside Road is still open ranch and the cows have the right of way,” said Franz Feldmann, a director with the Windermere District Farmers’ Institute. “Cows are cows and they have the right to be there. If somebody were to hit a cow [along Westside Road], they would have to pay for it.”
Mr. Feldmann said collisions with cattle have never been common in the area, and have become even more rare in recent years as local producers farm less livestock.
While some drivers have been made uneasy by the presence of such livestock, no cow aggression has been reported towards joggers and cyclists, Cst. Ralph said.