The Wildlife Program of the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (BCMOTI) is the cornerstone of wildlife protection on British Columbia highways. The standalone program is the point of contact for all BCMOTI’s wildlife-related issues. The program has five main components:
(1)monitoring, analysis and evaluation,
(3) policy and design standards development,
(4) research and innovation, and
(5) communications, public outreach and stakeholder engagement.
The program relies extensively on monitoring and data analysis. With daily wildlife-vehicle collision reporting and a provincial network of over 60 cameras, BCMOTI has been able to confirm the effectiveness of its four wildlife overpasses and many of its over 70 wildlife underpasses for a wide range of wildlife species. The program is developing innovative approaches for reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions, ranging from dog hair as an ungulate repellent and intercept salt feeding as an ungulate attractant, to radar-based wildlife detection systems (WDS) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven,
species-oriented, variable wavelength bridge lighting. With wildlife exclusion systems costing upwards of $750,000 per kilometre, and WDS systems costing upwards of $2 million dollars each, the program focuses resources where they can be cost-effective.
The program draws upon the expertise of BCMOTI’s wildlife, structural, electrical, geotechnical and traffic safety professionals, and a wide range of external professionals and academics. It builds upon the experiences shared by other transportation agencies to develop, test and refine new concepts in wildlife protection. This approach expedites project integration into existing infrastructure and operational practises.
The program fosters positive relationships between BCMOTI, the public, First Nations, fish and game associations, and NGO’s. Through Social Media, including Facebook and Twitter, the program is engaging a growing public audience. Weekly blogs provide easily accessible information to satisfy increasing public interest in wildlife protection. Program campaigns have targeted vulnerable road users, including motorcyclists and cyclists. The program supports youth activities, such as the BC Wildlife Federation Wildkidz camps, to raise wildlife awareness among future road users.
The Wildlife Program provides an example of how transportation agencies can comprehensively manage and direct wildlife protection initiatives to provide wildlife, road users and taxpayers maximum benefit.