Photos: Pat Morrow

Save Radium’s Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

Over the past 20 years, more than 200 bighorn sheep have died on the highway at Radium on the edge of the Rocky Mountains. In January, seven sheep were killed on one deadly stretch of highway just outside Kootenay National Park. This decades-long tragedy has turned into a crisis.

We have to stop the killing of Radium’s bighorn sheep. 

BC’s Ministry of Transportation needs to take immediate action to stop cars and trucks from hitting sheep on the One Mile Hill. Bighorn sheep cross the highway here, moving to take advantage of lower snow levels and easily accessed food on steep slopes bordering the highway. Salt spread on the highway in winter acts as a mineral lick for the sheep, who are now used to cars and frequently hang out on the highway — putting them right in the path of highway traffic at 90km/h or faster.

The only long-term solution is a wildlife overpass, but right now, these sheep need a reduced-speed zone and a closure of the passing lane, which will give drivers time to react to sheep on the road. The provincial Wildlife Branch is attempting to lure sheep from the “kill zone” as an interim effort. While hopefully providing some relief, this is not an adequate solution to avoid further collisions. The only long-term solution is to permanently keep sheep off the highway.

In recent weeks, many have spoken up and the Ministry of Transportation has started to listen, putting a wildlife guardian and some flashing lights in place, with thoughts to do more in the future, but it’s unlikely to be enough to stop the slaughter. They've added many signs over the years, but they aren't working — more sheep keep dying. We need immediate action to reduce speeds until a wildlife overpass and fencing have been built. 

Send a message today to BC Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming, asking for an immediate and effective response to protect Radium bighorn sheep and a commitment to build a highway overpass.