Hiking in the Yukon. Image: Pat Morrow
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"I left inspired to protect the special places in my own backyard."
Sara Renner, Y2Y supporter

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Making Highway 3 Safe for Motorists and Wildlife

In southern Alberta and B.C., humans and wildlife are at a crossroads.

How much did Alberta taxpayers pay for wildlife motor vehicle collisions in 2006?
$250 million

How much on average does it cost society when a vehicle hits a moose?

In southern Alberta and B.C., humans and wildlife are at a crossroads. Highway 3, a major artery in the southern portion of the two provinces, sees between 6,000 and 9,000 vehicles per day.

Unfortunately, the highway also intersects with a major north-south wildlife movement corridor that is used by the animals seeking to travel from one habitat to another.

Thanks to an innovative research project conducted by Y2Y, Montana State University's Western Transportation Institute and the University of Calgary's Miistakis Institute, highway users, both four-wheelin' and four-legged, may soon have a safer journey.

The report, Highway 3: Transportation Mitigation for Wildlife and Connectivity, assessed specific long- and short-term mitigation options for 31 strategic sites (nine in Alberta and 22 in B.C.) along Highway 3 and found that several options (fencing, overpasses, underpasses and pullouts) would be both economically viable and effective at reducing wildlife motor vehicle collisions.

Alberta Transportation personnel have welcomed the recommendations and the department is currently considering them in its internal review process. Collaborators are optimistic that the response will be equally positive when they present them to BC's Transportation Department.

So what led to the report's welcome reception? Its holistic approach.

Researchers considered all angles to identify its suite of interconnected recommendations. In addition to calculating the average cost of building and maintaining a wildlife underpass against the average cost of a wildlife motor vehicle collision, researchers considered local plans for urban expansion: twinning the highway and regional wildlife connectivity and conservation issues.

Most importantly, Dale Paton, one of the researchers on the project and a local to the region, was effective at collecting community input to help shape the recommendations.

In the end, the report was a huge success and soon wildlife crossing options will be put into place ensuring that the surrounding communities, motorists and wildlife enjoy a healthy coexistence.