Wildlife Exclusion Systems for Accident Mitigation on British Columbia Highways
The British Columbia Ministry of Transportation (BCMoT) has been addressing the issue of motor vehicle-related wildlife mortality on Provincial highways with wildlife exclusion fencing and related engineered structures since the 1980's. As a result, British Columbia wildlife are protected by the most extensive network of wildlife exclusion systems constructed by a transportation agency in North America. The BCMoT wildlife exclusion infrastructure consists of over 470 km of wildlife exclusion fencing complete with crossing structures designed to: • protect the motoring public and wildlife; • maintain operational efficiency of highways; and • ensure wildlife habitat connectivity. Wildlife exclusion systems are typically incorporated as an integral part of new highway construction to address projected potential wildlife mortality. As part of BCMoT's environmental assessment process, extensive wildlife identification and monitoring programs conducted by professional biologists and wildlife experts commence years before highway construction begins. When wildlife population clusters and migration routes are identified during environmental assessments, the habitat fragmenting potential of wildlife exclusion fencing is reduced with crossing structures. In some case, wildlife exclusion systems are retrofitted on existing highways where problematic wildlife accident locations which have developed over time are identified using BCMoT's Wildlife Accident Reporting System (WARS). With each successive project, BCMoT has refined its fence and crossing structure designs and standards to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of its wildlife exclusion systems as the movement patterns and behavior of wildlife are better understood. BCMoT's approach to reducing the potential for wildlife mortality has evolved from the application of simple engineered structures into more comprehensive integrated wildlife management systems as the knowledge about the dynamics of the highway/wildlife habitat interface in British Columbia has grown.