Lack of fencing along new Tsuut'ina Trail puts animals, drivers at risk, critics say

·2 min read

While many drivers might be enjoying the recently opened stretch of the southwest ring road, a Calgary group says wildlife are paying with their lives.

Several animals have died after being hit by vehicles along Tsuut'ina Trail.

The key piece of the ring road between Glenmore Trail and Fish Creek Boulevard S.W. opened in October.

A co-ordinator with the Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society, Lisa Dahlseide, says the lack of wildlife fencing along the busy route is resulting in animals wandering onto the roadway, where they can be hit by vehicles.

She says that wasn't part of the ring road plan.

Fence promised

"The agreement in place was to have wildlife fencing in place prior to the road being opened," said Dahlseide.

"But Alberta Transportation gave permission to KGL (the contractor building the ring road) to not have that in place for the opening of the road. So as a result, wildlife are crossing the road and getting hit."

She calls that decision disappointing, given that it seems opening the road took priority.

An official with the province, McKenzie Kibler, says the wildlife fencing is still part of the plan. He says it would be completed in the near future but no firm timeline was offered.

KGL is still working on completing the final portion of the southwest ring road, which runs from Fish Creek Boulevard to Highway 22X and the Macleod Trail interchange.

Dahlseide says Tsuut'ina Trail passes over both the Elbow River and Fish Creek, which are wildlife corridors.

She suggests that drivers be aware of that when driving in those areas.

"We ask that people slow down, especially during the dawn and dusk period, when the wildlife are moving a lot more, and just to be really cautious, that the wildlife might just pop out on the road, and to be prepared to stop," she said.

Lower speed limit suggested

Dahlseide suggests the province could increase safety for both humans and animals by temporarily bringing in a lower night speed limit instead of continuing with the present 100 km/h maximum.

Besides deer and bears, Dahlseide says there can be moose in the area.

She notes that striking those large animals with a passenger car could cause serious injury or death to drivers as well as cause major damage to the vehicle.

Alberta Transportation says that since the road opened Oct. 1, more than one million vehicles have used Tsuut'ina Trail.