Deer and other wildlife innocent victims on Highway 5

I had started an editorial this week about giving flowers to the living, however my heart won’t allow me to finish it right now because I can’t get the images of the baby fawn I saw standing by the side of the road not far from the Argo highways truck yesterday morning driving to work in Barriere. The highways truck was parked on highway 5 just south of Barriere, lights and signs out, blocking the body of a beautiful doe dead on the road – again.

The little fawn was in the high grasses in the north bound lane looking as though it was about to cross the road and the vehicle in front of me slowed as we both honked our horns to encourage it back into the high grass and not cross the busy highway to look for momma. Not the best solution, temporary at best I know. I imagined the mother realizing the fawn was not with her as she crossed the highway heading over the embankment to the river below for a cooling drink, probably turning back and being hit. Even as I write this I’ve got tears coming again.

How many times will I drive this highway, keeping count of dead animals? How many times have we addressed these issues of tall grasses and weeds, speeding vehicles, commercial trucks that either take no notice or are big enough not to care because they are pushed to unrealistic deadlines. Will those drivers now feel even more pressure with the new mandatory electronic logging systems being enforced? What are the solutions?

Hearing repeatedly from the valley partners, such as Simpcw Kúkwpi7 (Chief), George Lampreau, Mayor Ward Stamer from Barriere, Mayor Merlin Blackwell of Clearwater and Valemount’s, Mayor Owen Torgenson about a wide range of highway safety issues I can’t help but wonder if those concerns will truly be ‘heard’ when they attend the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) coming up in September. They have secured meetings with Minister of Transportation and Highways, Rob Fleming and with B.C.’s Public Safety Minister, Mike Farnworth to secure highway safety improvement commitments.

I’m not naïve, my ‘heart-string’ editorial about a dead deer and baby likely destined for a similar fate most likely won’t have much of an impact in the scheme of things when it comes to budgets and commitments for highway improvements. I had hoped my articles about a beautiful grandmother and her two sweet grandchildren returning home from a birthday party involved in a crash that ended up in a fatality for the driver that hit them on a dangerously uneven part of the highway near Darfield might have some kind of impact. Mary Fortier’s life will never be the same, but thankfully she and the two children are healing with help from family and community.

Following that accident in May at the ‘jumps’ or uneven roadway being eroded underneath the pavement has seen a temporary paving repair, but we all know that it’s only a matter of time before that will need more permanent construction to be truly safe.

Will the government be receptive to addressing these issues? It’s almost fall and already many of us that travel these roads daily are anticipating the winter conditions and commercial drivers that have no mountain driving endorsements.

Back to the deer family. A little way further up the road, just coming into Barriere that same morning at the spot where the speed limit drops to 60, lay the little lifeless body of a second baby fawn on the side of the road not far from a pull out. A pretty easy place to pull over and at least move the little babe. I guess whoever hit it just didn’t have the time being in too much of a hurry. By the time I drove home the count was six that day.