Making Highway 3 Wildlife-Friendly
Y2Y is working with its partners to promote wildlife overpasses and underpasses to make Highway 3 safer for wildlife and people.
(Y2Y and its partners are working to make Highway 3, which parallels the U.S.-Canada border in southern Alberta and British Columbia safer for people and wildlife.)
Just north of the Canada-U.S. border, Highway 3 cuts across the Rocky Mountains through the southern portion of Alberta and British Columbia (B.C.). Situated as the dividing line between Banff National Park and Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park, wildlife need to cross the road to move between these two key protected areas. Unfortunately, with 9,000 vehicles traveling along this artery every day, increased wildlife-vehicle collisions make it a major impediment to connectivity across the Yellowstone to Yukon region, while these collisions increase the costs to society in terms of human fatalities and injuries, vehicle damage, insurance premiums and more. If unaddressed, large carnivore populations in the U.S. will become isolated from their larger populations to the north and will be in jeopardy of extinction.
Research conducted on the wildlife overpasses, underpasses and fencing built on Canada’s Trans-Canada Highway through Banff National Park shows that these structures significantly reduce this threat. Wildlife-vehicle collisions in the park decreased by 80 per cent and the structures have enabled more than 140,000 animal crossings that have been proven to promote gene flow between populations. Additionally, a cost-benefit analysis of the various collision sites along Highway 3 indicated the average collision costs society between $1,323 and $31,405, while the average cost of building and maintaining a wildlife-crossing structure with fencing is $18,123 per year. This suggests that these strategies could significantly reduce the barrier to connectivity that Highway 3 presents, while also saving lives and tax dollars.
WHAT Y2Y IS DOING
The first step to improving this highway is determining where wildlife are successfully and unsuccessfully crossing the road, what measure would best support a safe crossing and which is the most cost effective.
Y2Y co-published a study, called Highway 3: Transportation Mitigation for Wildlife and Connectivity, which analyzed each of these factors. Thirty-one strategic sites (nine in Alberta and 22 in B.C.) were identified as possible sites for mitigation along Highway 3. Each area was prioritized and various measures were considered, including fencing, overpasses, underpasses and pullouts that would be both economically viable and effective at reducing wildlife-motor-vehicle collisions. Y2Y is now working with the Alberta and B.C. governments to implement these measures at top priority sites.
In Alberta, Y2Y and its partners, including Volker Stevin, the highway maintenance contractor for southern Alberta, are helping the Alberta government cost out mitigation structures for two priority sites—at Rock Creek and Crowsnest Lakes (see map above).
As of September 2016, Alberta Transportation installed ‘jump-outs’, which give animals caught on the highway an escape route, and wildlife fencing, which funnels resident big-horn sheep through an existing underpass, at the Crowsnest Pass site.
In B.C., additional data is needed to help place crossing structures where they will most benefit wildlife. Project partners have created a mobile phone app called Road Watch BC that can be used by travelers and commercial traffic to record wildlife sightings and road kills.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Share the Video: Share the Highway Wilding video with friends and family to help build awareness about this important issue.
Download the Mobile App: Passengers can share observations of local wildlife along highways in the Elk Valley region. The data will help planners determine the best place to build future crossings.(http://www.roadwatchbc.ca/app.php)
Take Action: If you live in Alberta or B.C., write your provincial transportation minister to request that the recommendations in Y2Y’s Highway 3 report be implemented.
Add Your Voice: Sign up to receive our Action Alerts and add your voice to important conservation causes.
GET THE LATEST: Hwy 3 News
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Highway #3 at Crowsnest Pass will soon be safer thanks to Y2Y, Miistakis Institute, Road Watch in the Pass, WTI, and many others.
A new program, RoadWatchBC, is putting increased highway safety for both people and wildlife into the hands of anyone with a smartphone or a computer.
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