Calgary

Spike in bighorn sheep deaths drives B.C. community to seek solutions

Nicole Trigg says the roads around Radium Hot Springs, B.C., have become deadly for bighorn sheep in the past few months and she’s looking for solutions.

More deaths in 2½ months than in most full years near Radium Hot Springs

A surge in fatal highway collisions with bighorn sheep near Radium has a resident looking for solutions. (Submitted by Nicole Trigg)

Nicole Trigg says the roads around Radium Hot Springs, B.C., have become deadly for bighorn sheep in the past few months and she's looking for solutions.

"Fourteen killed in 2½ months, when the average in the past was maybe 10 to 13 a year," the village resident told CBC News in a Tuesday interview.

Trigg said it was a recent surge in roadway deaths near the southeastern B.C. resort village that got her attention. In the last two weeks of November, four sheep died from vehicle collisions on Highway 95.

Nicole Trigg is a resident of Radium Hot Springs, B.C., and is hoping solutions can be found to reduce highway deaths of bighorn sheep on nearby roads. (Nicole Trigg)

"And I realized, something has to be done about this because these sheep are getting killed. Word is not getting out to the community."

So off to Facebook she went to rally the troops by creating a page dedicated to the cause: Help the Radium Bighorn herd.

The group hopes the slogan "slow your roll" will get people thinking about their speedometer.

"Once at 250, the herd's numbers dropped to 130 in fall 2021. Seven were killed in two weeks in January 2022, including two pregnant females," the Facebook page states.

The group also wants other solutions considered, such as a wildlife crossing at the south end of the village.

Clayton Lamb is a University of British Columbia researcher. (Laura Smit)

A wildlife scientist says the collisions have all taken place on a roughly four-kilometre stretch of Highway 95.

"It's a very localized issue," Clayton Lamb of the University of British Columbia told CBC News.

"And if we could fence it and keep those sheep off the highway there and allow them to cross with an overpass, then we could keep sheep and motorists safer on that stretch of highway."

Lamb says these sheep are special.

Trigg set up a Facebook page to draw attention to the surge in deaths of bighorn sheep on roads near Radium. (Submitted by Nicole Trigg)

"They're very restricted to small patches of habitat, and this herd alone, they're unique, distinct herds. Let's say if these sheep went to zero, it's not as if they're part of a bigger population that would just infill."

The province's transportation department says plans for an overpass option with fencing are pretty much done. It would likely be located south of the community, on what is called "Mile Hill." The initial estimate is roughly $4 million, as the province looks for funding options.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Bell

Web Journalist

David Bell has been a professional, platform-agnostic journalist since he was the first graduate of Mount Royal University’s bachelor of communications in journalism program in 2009. His work regularly receives national exposure.

With files from Dave Will

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