Saturday, May 16, 2015

Industry-Driven: Raising Speed Limits Makes BC Highways Death Trap for People and Animals

New 120 k /hr highways = machine guns; wildlife bridges needed throughout B.C.: Highways Now a Death Trap for Humans and Wildlife

by David Ellis - Enderby, BC

Yesterday not far from the Coquihalla summit I saw a black bear dead on the road. If I had hit this bear at 120 km/h I very likely would have been dead too.

Wildlife Bridges Can Work, if Built

Cars and trucks going this fast are like so much machine gun fire to wildlife and unless many more capable and hard working environmental and First Nations campaigners get onto this issue we will lose many smaller populations of deer, elk, bear.

"Three sections of B.C. rural highway will be set at the maximum 120 km/h speed limit, including Highway 5 (the Coquihalla) from Hope to Kamloops, Highway 97C from Aspen Grove to Peachland, and Highway 19 from Parksville to Campbell River on Vancouver Island.Jul 2, 2014"

And snakes such as rattlers in Okanagan, and frogs etc. all need much more consideration in highway and railway conduction. Not to speak of the 1000s of people that will die too, until these local populations of precious wildlife are all gone.

The above picture is of the only wildlife bridge I know of in B.C., it is near West Kelowna. The government must be very heavily lobbied now to see that such bridges are widely deployed now and used together with exclusion fencing. This had worked in Banff where Parks Canada has seen the value of such an investment, and has just gone ahead and got the job done.

These are not at all expensive in the overall context of our massive infrastructural spending, over the long term. But the government now sees them as a huge expense. Wrong way to think!

I found this out when I wrote to the deputy minister of highways and asking that a wildlife bridge be built very near where that dead bear now lies on the Coquihalla. The statistics did not support this, it was noted to me. But the statistic of note is the local destruction of the smaller wildlife populations due to roadkill.

Conservation biologists were not a part of the government decision making.

The truckers actually opposed these speed limits as they cost them more in fuel. Who is benefiting are the commodity industries, who lobbied for these deadly new speed limits. Our wildlife heritage and truckers and guys like me are considered collateral damage.

Thus there are now signs, especially since "urban wildlife" became a "problem" in B.C (it is not, just a local controversy full of emotion that makes politicians and government officials squirm) that some in positions of power in government now feel we have "too much" wildlife.

This is a crisis of values. Having abundant wildlife is central to our Canadian way of life, not ever a "problem" to be deliberately annihilated forever to make vehicle travel safer.

David Ellis
Enderby, B.C.

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