A couple from Edgewater, located just over 90 kilometres south of Golden along Highway 95, have raised approximately $2,000 to purchase 60 wildlife road signs.
Dean and Sophie Timothy plan to hang the signs themselves along Highway 95 between Golden and Radium in an effort to help save wildlife, as the highway prepares to see increased traffic during the Kicking Horse Canyon construction project closures.
“If we can change the mindset of a handful of people driving our highway and save the life of animals, or even human beings, the signs have done their job,” said Dean.
“It’s only temporary, they don’t have to stay up, but it would help show a little respect to the locals, by making it safer.”
“We knew we had to do something, because the signage isn’t enough, and these poor animals, people can control their driving, but animals can’t control the fact that they don’t know when it’s safe to cross,” added Sophie.
According to the pair, there are only 11 signs on the highway going both ways between Radium and Golden, 22 in total.
Dean, who has commuted along the highway for 30 years, says he’s seen from personal experience how many animal fatalities occur along that stretch of the highway, calling it a “slaughter zone.”
He says the increased traffic worries him for more deaths, especially as those who are not local to the highway come through at high speeds, trying to make up for lost time due to the detour.
Dean has spoken with locals throughout the valley, from Golden to Radium, who have all voiced their concerns for wildlife mortality and support for increased signage.
“I have people telling me they had to change their bedroom from the front to the back of their house, because they were tired of hearing the crying animals that got hit,” said Dean.
“It’s scary to think, my generation saw the caribou population decimated. If we’re not careful, we’ll see the elk and deer go away too.”
It’s about more than just the animals, but also about human life, which can be lost with significant vehicle interactions with wildlife.
As well, Dean stated he’s worried about school buses being overtaken while unloading kids, as many don’t know there are stops along the side of the highway.
Sophie says that she’s spoken with provincial ministry of transportation officials about adding signage, but after hitting a wall in getting any action taken, decided that she and her husband would take matters into their own hands.
The Timothy s originally set out a goal for 60 signs, to be paid out of pocket, before realizing the price.
They settled on 11, before Dean decided the matter should be taken online to see if they could get more support.
What started out as a Facebook post quickly spiralled, according to Sophie. “Everyone at this end of the valley has been great, everyone’s amazing and shares our concerns,” she said.
“Our valley is home to us and the wildlife, we care for the people and the animals, so it just breaks your heart when you see a dead bambi or something squashed, or the young ones calling for the mother.”
Dean and Sophie will be in Golden this upcoming weekend to hang signs in the Golden area of the Highway 95 corridor. Signs must be hung on fence posts or trees, as they do not have permission to use BC Hydro poles.
Not associated with any particular organization, the couple say donations continue to come in, raising the potential to add up to another 60 signs.