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Opinion: Rules of the road

Peter Shokeir | editor@fitzhugh.ca

For the most part, drivers slow down when passing wildlife, but not often enough.

Last year, 121 animals were killed by vehicles within Jasper National Park.

That is a lot of unnecessary animal death, especially considering this is a protected area.

Wildlife-vehicle collisions often occur because of irresponsible wildlife viewing.

However, let’s not forget to point the finger at drivers breaking the speed limit.

Nearly all the vehicles on the highway pass me when I’m going the posted speed limit.

Many of these rulebreakers are semi-trailer trucks that can’t stop as quickly as smaller vehicles, and I’m sure these drivers are facing plenty of pressures, long hours and tight deadlines, but safety ought to come first and the companies themselves should shoulder some responsibility.

And yes, Albertans tend to speed on highways a little, and the police are tolerant enough to provide some leeway, but when you have as much wildlife as Jasper, this lax attitude comes with greater risks.

One solution to wildlife-human collisions is wildlife overpasses, such as those found in Banff National Park.

Since a major corridor between Alberta and British Columbia goes through it, these overpasses can be justified.

In Jasper, however, traffic isn’t quite as heavy, and the associated fencing required to herd animals across these overpasses would undoubtedly impact the beauty of the landscape.

Awareness and education don’t seem to do much either, so some sort of enforcement is clearly necessary.

Perhaps this can be achieved through more funding to highway patrols or a photo radar program.

Either way, something will have to be done eventually, because the rules of the road exist for a reason.

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