New Way to Protect Wildlife on Highway 3

UPDATE March 7, 2017

When we pilot a new project like this, we do so with the intent to test, learn and with understanding that there may be some bumps along the way. Those “bumps” help us smooth out any challenges the project might have before it becomes a permanent or large scale installation.

We’ve recently had one of those bumps in our Wildlife Detection System pilot project near Elko. Radars along this particular corridor depend on their antenna spinning at a critical speed to detect roadside wildlife. One of those radars has a seized bearing which is preventing the  antenna from spinning as it should. This radar has been sent for repair, which will take approximately 3-4 weeks. We hope to get more details on the cause of the issue through the repair process and are exploring the purchase of a backup unit to help reduce any future issues. In the meantime, travellers will notice the unit continues to flash a warning of the potential for wildlife in the area and advising motorists to slow down.


We’re trying something new to reduce deer and elk collisions where they happen most – Highway 3 between Cranbrook and the Alberta border.

Two high-tech wildlife detection systems are installed at two locations:

Site 1: approximately 1 km east of Elko
Site 2: approximately 2 km east of Sparwood

Ministry staff is now testing to ensure the systems, which include radar and thermal cameras, are working correctly before turning the systems on for travellers.

Once activated, sensors will trigger flashing warning signs when large animals approach the highway. Meanwhile, we’ll monitor these test sites to see if the detection systems reduce the number of wildlife collisions. If successful, we’ll consider installing more wildlife detection systems at wildlife hot spots around the province.

To help you picture how these systems will work, we’ve created an animated simulation. Take a look.

Page 1 of 21 comments on “New Way to Protect Wildlife on Highway 3”

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  1. this an amzing initiative to save wild life. definitely must be replicated in other parts of the world to save the declining wild life population and to help the drivers drive safely at night.

  2. As a frequent traveller of the road, the lights are just ignored, as they are not flashing when animals are seen, and often flashing when animals are not visible in the vicinity, or visible half way up the hillside.

    • Hello Wendy,

      Thanks for connecting with us here and sharing your concern about the Wildlife Detection System on BC Highway 3.

      There are several scenarios where the detection system lights may flash when animals are not seen by the motorist, including:
      – the triggering animal being behind the motorist (the whole corridor flashes regardless of where animals are detected),
      – animals having been detected and left the area (lights remain on for several minutes after a detection)
      – as well as drivers not spotting the animals.

      The detection area is defined as 4 metres from the edge of the paint line, and animals located on the hillsides off the road will not trigger the system until they get close enough. These animals could be easily seen by motorists, yet not be close enough to the road to trigger the signs.

      Bicycles, pedestrians and other very slow moving ‘objects’ can also trigger the system – and would present to motorists as an event with signs flashing but no wildlife present.

      Finally, changing seasons present different patterns to the system in terms of vegetation and weather, and the system is undergoing a re-evaluation of current performance in summer conditions that will result in the best possible performance.

      We hope that this helps answer your concerns about the system. If you have any other questions, let us know. Safe travels!

  3. A good use of technology, if it’s scale-able then would be invaluable in places like Newfoundland to help with their moose too.