Elk radar tested in Kootenays to protect majestic animals from traffic

Kootenay B.C. is trying a new high-tech tool — elk radar — to protect ungulates in their prime range.

The high-tech solution is a first, and flashes lights to warn drivers of oncoming antlers

Elk a beautiful sight on B.C.'s highways, unless the elk is a 315-kg bull that appears suddenly on the vista and stops stubbornly on the centre line, staring down a speeding car. (CBC)

Kootenay B.C. is trying a new high-tech  tool — elk radar — to protect ungulates in their prime range.

The 31-kilometre drive between Fernie and Elko B.C. is stunning, but often harrowing, due to wildlife encounters.

Crashes are common, especially from October to March, and the impact can easily kill both animal and driver.

So Elko, and a spot east of Sparwood, are piloting a radar-based wildlife detection system that will trigger a flashing sign to warn drivers if a deer, elk or bear is up ahead.

"The warning signs will light up with flashing lights to alert drivers to slow down and avoid hitting the animal once it has been detected by the sensors," said Ed Miska, a B.C. government engineer who runs the program.

The million-dollar radar system is similar to successful pilots in Alberta, Eastern Canada and the U.S.

If it works — after B.C.s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure reviews the pilot — wildlife warning systems may be coming to more B.C. highways.

Low-tech elk crossing signs may be a thing of the past as new high-tech, flashing warning systems helps protect the hooved wonders common along rural roadways near Elko, B.C.

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