Coquihalla Highway. Wikimedia Commons photo.

Coquihalla Highway. Wikimedia Commons photo.

Province’s $1.2-million fence project to keep wildlife off Coquihalla Highway begins next week

Coquihalla Highway sees approximately 160 vehicle-wildlife collisions each year

Work begins next week on a provincial project to build almost 25 kilometres of new fencing along the Coquihalla Highway, in an effort to prevent vehicles from crashing into crossing wildlife.

The project has an estimated cost of $1.2 million, and will replace typical livestock fencing with “Wildlife-exclusion fencing,” which adds an addition 1.2 metres to the height on the fence.

“Our government is committed to a safe, reliable and efficient transportation system, as well as supporting wildlife in their natural ecosystems,” said Claire Trevena, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “I am pleased to see this addition to our wildlife-exclusion system, reducing wildlife-related accidents to protect people and wildlife from harm.”

The Coquihalla Highway sees around 160 wildlife crashes each year, 75 per cent of which involve deer. The new fencing – while also being better at stopping the highway crossings of larger animals such as deer, moose and elk – will redirect animals to existing wildlife underpasses.

The Coquihalla Highway starts east of Hope and ends in northern B.C. at Highway 16, and is considered a major transit route linking the southern and northern Interiors.

The fencing will be installed on both sides of the highway south of Merritt, and add to almost 180 kilmetres of existing wildlife-exclusion fencing in place.

“This is an importation corridor not only for our community but for the entire province. I, along with my fellow council members, am proud to have this additional protection for both travellers and our native animal population in the Nicola Valley,” said Linda Brown, mayor of the City of Merritt.

“This fencing will ensure the safe movement of animals. It comes at a key time with higher numbers of guests visiting our beautiful region each year.”

Wildlife-vehicle collisions cause millions in damages and can have detremental impacts on wildlife populations, said Candace Batycki, program director of Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

“Wildlife-exclusion fencing combined with road crossing infrastructure is a proven solution for people and wildlife, and we commend the ministry on expanding its exclusion-fencing system.”

The province does not expect the new installation to cause any traffic delays.

Several elk were found dead along the Trans-Canada Highway through Canmore, Alta. on Sunday, April 29, 2019. It has renewed calls for wildlife fencing through the mountain town. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Kelly Zenkewich/Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative)

RELATED: Animals involved in 11,000 vehicle collisions annually across B.C.

Coquihalla Highway