2% of endangered badgers in B.C. killed off in 2 days, conservation group says
B.C. badger biologist says Ministry of Transportation should do more to keep the animals off highways
By Brady Strachan, CBC News
The endangered badger population in B.C. took a hit this week after four animals were struck and killed by vehicles on Okanagan highways according to a conservation group that works to protect badgers in the province.
The badgers were killed in a span of two days on Highway 6 near Lumby and on Highway 97 North near the University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus in Kelowna, according to Badgers in B.C.
The badger killed near Lumby was found dead on the highway near a road sign alerting drivers to badger activity in the area, said Rich Weir who is spokesman for the conservation group and a biologist with the Ministry of the Environment.
"We were hopeful that the (road sign) was going to help, but people tend to ignore road signs sometimes I guess," said Weir.
The badgers killed in Kelowna are believed to be a family unit which had taken up residence in vegetation near a parking lot at UBC Okanagan, said Weir.
"It looks like the whole family got wiped out, which is really unfortunate," he said.
"In the Okanagan Valley there probably aren't 20 badgers, so to lose those three is not going to help the population much."
Badgers are extremely rare in B.C. — according to Parks Canada, there are only about 200 of them left in the province.
Badgers in B.C. says the loss of these four badgers this week means two per cent of the endangered population has been killed in only 2 days.
"Road mortality is clearly the biggest threat (to badger populations.) If you are a badger in the Thompson or Okanagan that's how you are going to die," Weir said.
Many badgers in B.C. live in valleys and have to cross roads to reach parts of their territory, said Weir.
Challenges getting ministry cooperation
The conservation group wants to pilot a project to put barriers along highways in known badger territory and force the animals to use culverts to get from one side of a roadway to the other.
However Weir told CBC News the group is having challenges getting the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on board.
"It's frustrating, because we are trying very hard to reduce mortality, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of flexibility," he said.
"A lot of the feedback we get from the highways folks is that we can't do that, because this will cause water problems on the road surface, or whatnot."
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure did not immediately provide a response to CBC News.
Meanwhile, Weir wants the public to do its part in keeping B.C. badgers safe by slowing down at night and keeping an eye out for animals crossing the road.
He also wants people to report any badger sightings to Badgers in B.C. on its webpage.
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