A stretch of Highway 3 is said to be one of the most dangerous roadways in B.C. Collisions between vehicles and wildlife happen so often just about everyone in the town of Sparwood has a story.
That’s one of the reasons the highway is part of a new pilot project that aims to reduce roadkill.
Ministry of Transportation statistics say 5,500 carcasses are pulled off of B.C. roads each year. ICBC says about 10,000 collisions involving animals are reported each year, but experts believe the actual number of animals fatalities is much higher.
Gayle Hesse of the Wildlife Collision Prevention Program says those statistics fail to include “over 18,000 animals that are hit and killed by vehicles, but who move away from the road.”
“Those numbers need be added into the official total. That comes to over 24,300 that are killed on B.C. highways every year.”
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure plans to install a new detection system in two locations on Highway 3–one east of Sparwood and another east of Elko–in an effort to reduce roadkill. The sensors will spot large animals near the highway and trigger a warning to drivers to slow down.
“This initial pilot program carries a cost of about $2.5 million,” said Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone. “The technology is not inexpensive, but it is in use in other parts of the world and where it is in use we have seen a direct correlation between the use of this technology and a subsequent reduction in the number of collisions.”
The system will be up and running this fall. If it works it will be added to high-risk stretches of highway across the province. When used in conjunction with animal corridors and fencing, it could save millions of dollars in insurance claims and save lives in the process.
-With files from Aaron McArthur