The federal government has announced an additional $9.6 million investment to further establish wildlife passes and fencing along Highway 93 South at Kootenay National Park.
This investment marks phase two of a preventative conflict plan in the area, which will add at least four more wildlife crossings and 6.5 kilometres of fencing to the three tunnels and 4.6 kilometres of fencing already in place.
The total spent after phase two is complete will be approximately $15.5 million.
Wildlife tunnels and overpasses provide a safer method of migration for ungulates, as well as a measure of safety for other animals – from wolves down to chipmunks. The highway fencing, which is being used more frequently across the country, creates access points for crossings as well, preventing some of the tragic wildlife-vehicle collisions that are costly to both animals and drivers.
It’s certainly a welcome move from a government that has a less than impressive track on wildlife and environmental policies.
But while we congratulate the investment, we must also point out the ongoing cutbacks to boots-on-the-ground funding. The need for education and enforcement of existing and future policies to protect the environment and wildlife of our national parks is vital.
The government may be giving more to conflict prevention with their left hand, but their right hand is tightening the reins on another important aspect of the parks system. It's time for balance.