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Overpass to help protect bighorn sheep from fatal car crashes in B.C. Kootenays

This will help to make the certain stretch of Highway 93/95 safer for drivers and animals

The number of bighorn sheep in Radium Hot Springs has been dropping for years due to vehicle collisions, and the hope is that a new wildlife overpass will help curb these deaths.

In 2003, there were an estimated 230 sheep in the area – dropping to 120 in 2019. The province says that 10 per cent of the herd was likely killed in vehicle strikes along Highway 93 and Highway 95.

The new overpass, which is set to go to tender within the next coming weeks, is being constructed with support from Indigenous groups and $2.5-million in funding from Teck.

READ MORE: Bighorn sheep and the struggle against land fragmentation

The overpass will cross the highway near Mile Hill. This location was chosen following site inspections by the forest and transportation ministries, as well as the Village of Radium Hot Springs and Parks Canada.

This project includes around six kilometres of wildlife fencing and gates, which will help to guide animals to the overpass and safely over the highway.

Ministry staff have worked with the Shuswap First Nation and Ktunaxa Nation to provide monitoring of the herd and local knowledge.

Rory O’Connor, manager of social responsibility for Teck, says that this will really help to make it safer for not only bighorn sheep, but other species in the region.

“We’ve come to know of what’s happening with the bighorn sheep and really want to do something to help,” O’Connor said.

This project is part of Teck’s commitment on becoming a nature positive company by 2030. This means that Teck’s conservation, protection and restoration of land and biodiversity will exceed the disturbance caused by its mining activities from a 2020 baseline.