The tranquility of Elk Island National Park has been disturbed lately, according to officials who say there have been vehicles travelling at excessive speeds through the park, sometimes hitting and killing bison in their wake.
Digital speed signs in the park – there are five total — have caught motorists going as fast as 100 kilometres an hour over the speed limit – 144 km/h in a 40 km/h zone.
“Well, it’s quite alarming and it’s disappointing and a bit frustrating that we’re seeing those types of speeds here in a national park,” said Dale Kirkland, Elk Island National Park superintendent.
He said six bison have been killed by vehicles in the park since 2020, with the most recent incident in August. The park conducted a study that shows 534 wildlife in total have been killed by vehicles since June, including toads, salamanders, coyotes and even bison.
“The recent collisions we’ve had, luckily some passengers haven’t been injured, but we’re seeing some significant damage done to vehicles and, of course, the death of these animals,” Kirkland said.
“The roads are very windy. You don’t have a lot of time to react when you’re going around when you come across a bison, a person, a person on a bike,” said Insp. Barry LaRocque with Fort Saskatchewan RCMP.
Darren Gust, a regular visitor to Elk Island, says he’s concerned about the issue too because he’s witnessed it first-hand.
“Young guys showed up on motorbikes and they were drag racing throughout the park. I was really upset and actually called one of the guys out on it,” Gust said.
“It’s also about respect for the animals, for the bison, the moose – everything that’s here – and it’s respect, of course, for other people,” he added.
The park is taking measures to slow down drivers, including installing speed bumps. The RCMP is also stepping in to help.
“We certainly will be looking at enforcing the speed limits and issuing tickets if in fact we find that people are committing traffic infractions,” LaRocque said.
More measures will be implemented in the next year, but in the meantime, Kirkland wants people to enjoy the island, but do it safely.
“Wildlife is here in Elk Island and it’s a shared responsibility for us to protect that wildlife,” he said. “Please obey the speed limits, please be extra alert when you’re here in the middle of the night or those daytime, dawn and post-dawn hours.”
— With files from Slav Kornik, Global News
- Brian Mulroney remembered as prime minister who understood Alberta interests
- 2 years in, has the Bank of Canada’s historic rate hike campaign done the job?
- IVF, fertility help costs are rising. For many that means ‘reconsidering’
- Quebec court ruling on secularism law fuels debate on notwithstanding clause