Highway 93 South Mitigation Feasibility Study in Kootenay National Park for Parks Canada

Abstract: Rapidly growing human populations in Alberta and British Columbia, along with growing recreational interest in the Columbia Valley, have contributed to substantial increases in traffic volume on Highway 93 South, a major through road in Kootenay and Banff National Parks. The highway extends 106 km from the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park in Alberta to the Columbia Valley at Radium Hot Springs in British Columbia. Kootenay National Park is a relatively long, narrow park with Highway 93 South bisecting its major valley bottoms. Annual traffic volume increased 28.6 percent between 1997 and 2006.Traffic consists mainly of through traffic, including many one-time visitors, commercial truck traffic, and recreational commuters. Large truck traffic makes up 5 to 13 percent of total traffic volume, depending on the season, and appears to be responsible for a disproportionately high number of the wildlife-vehicle collisions on the highway. Road-killed wildlife (larger than coyote) has been reported with relative consistency since the mid-1980s. A total of 1,236 wildlife road-kills were reported between 1982 and 2006, and since 1997 the location of the carcasses has been documented using GPS units. Over the last ten years (1997-2006) the most frequently recorded road-killed species were white-tailed deer (n=233; 52.5%), moose (n=51; 11.5%), bighorn sheep (n=31; 6.9%), mule deer (n=29; 6.5%), black bear (n=27; 6.1%), and elk (n=26; 5.9%) (total n=444). In addition, relatively rare or sensitive species have been reported as road kill, including grizzly bear, Canada lynx, wolf, and mountain goat. Given the strong increase in traffic volume over the last decade, relatively high numbers of road-killed wildlife and the expected further increase in traffic volume in the near future, Parks Canada is concerned about the impacts of the road and traffic on wildlife through vehicle-related mortality and the barrier effect of the highway. The purpose of the proposed work is to investigate and recommend strategies that reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and that maintain or improve habitat connectivity for wildlife.

Sponsoring Organization: Parks Canada--Lake Louise

Completion Date: 3/31/2008

Additional Project Information: http://www.westerntransportationinstitute.org/research/4W1929.aspx