CAMORE – A prominent environmental group wants the province to reduce the speed limit along the Trans-Canada Highway to reduce the number of animals struck and killed by vehicles in the Bow Valley.
The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative would like the province to reduce the speed limit to 90 km/h from the eastern gates of Banff National Park to the Bow River bridge in Canmore as an interim measure until wildlife fencing can be built.
“An interim measure before we actually get the fencing and the wildlife crossing structures could be a reduced highway speed coming out of Banff National Park,” said
Hilary Young, senior Alberta program manager for the environment group.
“If it was 90 km/h and people slowed down through Canmore all the way as far as the Bow River crossing it might a large difference.”
Her comments follow two serious collisions over the past four weeks where elk were struck and killed, including five elk that were hit by a transport truck in Canmore on Sunday night (March 17).
RCMP Sgt. Stan Andronyk said the elk were hit around 8:25 p.m. near the on and off ramps for Palliser Trail, an area frequently used by a herd of elk for grazing. A car was also involved in the accident.
“Our members had to put down one of the elk that was injured on the side of the road,” said Andronyk.
Fire and EMS responded to the incident, however there were no injuries.
It’s the second accident involving elk on the Trans-Canada Highway in the past month.
In 2012, a highway mitigation plan was developed for a 39-kilometre stretch of highway between Canmore and Highway 40, where there are only two underpasses with wildlife fencing over a three-km stretch near Dead Man’s Flats.
At that time, the study estimated there to be about 60 collisions with deer, moose, sheep and elk per year, which added up to almost $750,000 in costs to mitigate collisions, such as clean up and insurance costs.
Last year the provincial government confirmed it had hired a consultant to do a design and cost benefit analysis for a wildlife overpass between Highway 1X and Lac Des Arcs, however so far no money has been committed to the project.
“We certainly need to make our highways safer for both people and for wildlife and the cost of over pass, for example, would pay for itself in about 10 years given the savings for insurance and collisions,” said Young.
Alberta Transportation declined to comment because the province is now in an election.