Why We Use Wildlife Overpasses on BC Highways

Bear-and-Cub_AnimatedWild animals love British Columbia. Of course they do – it’s varied terrain makes it a haven for beasts and creatures of all shapes and sizes. Both small and large species, from the gigantic moose to the night-crawling raccoon, pose potential hazards for drivers, and vise versa. A large animal can make a serious impact, while a smaller animal can startle a driver into swerving and losing control of their vehicle.

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It’s our job to prevent animals and drivers from crossing paths, and the wildlife overpass is just one of the ways we do this.

Along with wildlife underpasses, which we wrote about in a previous post, overpasses give wildlife safe passage to important seasonal habitats. Healthy wildlife populations flourish when ecosystems remain connected, and wildlife overpasses help achieve that. Think of them as “wildlife freeways,” keeping animals moving while preventing collisions with vehicles.

Where to put them?

Our wildlife experts are instrumental in determining overpass locations. They work closely with bridge engineers on the design of the structures, and with geotechnical engineers on the final location. Overpasses are built after extensive wildlife habitat surveys, wildlife tracking surveys, wildlife population surveys, and analysis of wildlife accident locations using the ministry’s WARS data.

Part of a bigger wildlife transportation network

Wildlife overpasses are a big part of the wildlife exclusion systems we use to protect motorists and wildlife on BC highways. Other parts of exclusion systems include:

  • Exclusion fencing
  • One-way gates
  • Jump outs (basically, raised ramps that allow animals who find themselves on the wrong side of the fence to jump out to the protected side)
  • Ungulate guards

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Our maintenance contractors also keep the grass and brush short along the highway to allow drivers to see when any animals do come close to the road.

We estimate that a well-designed, well-constructed and well-maintained wildlife exclusion system can reduce the potential for wildlife collisions by more than 90 per cent. That’s good news, whether you travel on four wheels or four legs.
Have a question about wildlife overpasses that we didn’t answer? Let us know in the comments section below.

15 comments on “Why We Use Wildlife Overpasses on BC Highways”

Leave a Reply to Tyler Cancel reply

  1. Hello,

    Are there any plans to build a wildlife overpass anywhere along Hwy 97 between Clinton and Quesnel? There are a massive amount of wildlife deaths occurring and I am sure they are not all reported. I looked at your WARS data and Hwy 97 is by far the worst Hwy for animal collisions, however I know it is also probably the longest Hwy as well. Please advise. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Good morning Jake,

      We reached out to our environmental team and they let us know that, at this time, the ministry does not have plans to build a wildlife overpass between Clinton and Quesnel on Highway 97.

      We normally consider building a wildlife overpasses when we have a major project on a highway and wildlife-vehicle collisions are a traffic safety factor. That way, the ministry can take advantage of the engineering and construction staff, and construction equipment, available with the project. We typically build wildlife overpasses in locations where wildlife habitat can be permanently connected to provincial lands on both sides of a highway. This makes building wildlife overpasses easier, much less expensive, and more effective.

      Our ministry has been monitoring wildlife mortality on numbered provincial highways on a daily basis for over 35 years, is monitoring wildlife-vehicle collisions on Highway 97 and is always looking at ways of reducing these collisions to protect wildlife and motorists.

      Reply
  2. Hello, i wonder if you could consider changing the speed limit on the highway 97 from prince george to hixon 110, garden pass in nevada is 70 mph which is 110, both are similar road types and conditions

    Reply
    • Hi Marcus,
      I can certainly pass on your comments to the local area. Though we’re always monitoring highway speeds and safety, there is no plans to change speed limits at this time.

      Reply
    • Hi Marcus,
      Further to your comment (we spoke to our engineers), this section was considered during the 2014 Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review. Ministry traffic engineers evaluated operating speeds on the highway at that time and based on engineering input as well as public consultation, the decision was made to not increase the speed limit on Highway 97 between Hixon and Prince George. As mentioned before, we don’t have any plans to review the speed limit along this section of highway at this time. Thanks again.

      Reply
  3. Hi there,

    I am wondering who to talk to. Would like
    An animal overpass on our highway in between cities.
    Can you email me back the info. Please?

    Reply
    • Hello Vanessa,

      If you could let us know where you were thinking, we can direct you to our local area staff, who will review/consider your suggestion.

      Reply
  4. I would like permission to link to webcams and use your Wildlife Exclusion System diagram to show students a real-world examples of how scientists are providing solutions to fragmented ecosystems during my Global Skype Virtual Education Session: Jr. Biologists Investigate Conservation Science.

    I am showcasing the road ecology of work of USFWS and the US Dept. of Transportation. I would love to include Canadian science as well.

    Reply
  5. I would like permission to link to webcams and use your Wildlife Exclusion System diagram to show students a real-world examples of how scientists are providing solutions to fragmented ecosystems during my Global Skype Virtual Education Session: Jr. Biologists Investigate Conservation Science.

    The session is an exploration of how conservation biologists are using scientific tools and methods to learn about and mitigate human threats to ecosystems, ecosystem services, and wildlife communities. I am showcasing the road ecology of work of USFWS and the US Dept. of Transportation. I would love to include Canadian science as well.

    Reply
    • Hello Deb and thank you for your comment. You are free to link back to our webcams and highlight our Wildlife Exclusion System diagram, as long as the images etc. are not used for marketing/promotional/monetary gain. Please credit the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Thank you!

      Reply
  6. Hello, my name is Tyler from Child of God. Thank you for replying to my E-mail. I would like to ask if you would be willing to do a pod cast, phone call, or other form of communication during our presentation.We will be asking the same questions that I asked earlier. I will try to keep in touch. Thank you for your cooperation.

    Reply
    • Hi Tyler,

      One of our wildlife biologists has been in touch with you directly and we hope that this helps answer your questions. Thanks for connecting with us here and good luck with your project.

      Reply
  7. Hello, my name is Tyler from Child of God School. We are doing a project on white tailed deer. I seek answers and useful information about these questions.

    When people interact with white tailed deer, is it on purpose or on accident?

    Does the interaction help or hurt the people, animal, or both?

    What type of professionals work with or study animals?

    Do you notice any ways that the interaction could be better, more productive, healthier, or happier for both the animal and the person?

    Reply
    • Hi Tyler,

      Thanks for connecting with us here. Interactions with deer can be both accidental and on purpose, but because white tail deer are wild animals, the least amount of contact with humans, the better. Wildlife biologists would study these types of animals and for a variety of reasons. Hope that this helps.

      Reply