VIDEO: Bighorn sheep find road salt irresistible in the Okanagan

Big horn sheep licking the salt on the roads on Highway 97 in Olalla. Ministry of Transportation has placed salt stations above the highway to deter this from happening. (Fred Allison Facebook)
Steve Pee's vehicle was blocked by more than a dozen bighorn sheep licking the salt off Eastside Rd in OK Falls last week. (Steve Pee video)

Big Horn sheep find road salt irresistible and their taste for it is creating a lot of close encounters along highways in the Okanagan and Similkameen this winter.

Several videos, pictures and close encounters have been showing up all over Penticton, OK Falls and Olalla since winter’s first snowfalls.

Stevie Pee took out his phone when more than a dozen Big Horn sheep blocked traffic along Eastside Rd. in OK Falls last week. The sheep had come down the mountain so they could lick the road salt.

Lakeside and Eastside Road are locations of large sheep populations. They tend to come down to the road during the winter months. It’s a particularly dangerous road for wildlife encounters because of how windy it is.

The Ministry of Transportation has been working to mitigate wildlife encounters on B.C. roads and has come up with some creative ideas. One pilot project is providing salt-lick stations to steer mountain goats away from highways. The ministry also uses dog hair to deter big horn sheep from roadsides in the Kootenays.

One salt lick station is located in the Keremeos-Cawston area on the hills above Highway 3A, above Olalla, to deter mountain goats from moving towards the highway. The salt is placed several hundred meters up in the bluffs, and is maintained in a specific spot for predictability, said a ministry spokesperson.

Similar salt licks also appear along Highway 31. The ministry is also supporting moose-salt lick monitoring studies by the University of Northern B.C. along Highway 16 in the north.

Other efforts for protecting wildlife safety include roadside signs warning drivers of wildlife present in known areas. There is wildlife fencing too, like the fenced section between Okanagan Falls and Gallagher Lake on Highway 97, to prevent sheep and other wildlife from entering the highway.

The ministry has modified bridges to increase safe wildlife passage (across Highway 3, east of Sparwood in southeastern B.C.).

Local Conservation Officer Dave Cox said encounters with wildlife on roads is all too common, especially in high migration corridors.

“Drivers always need to paying attention for wildlife and exercising caution when they see road signs about wildlife,” said Cox. “We all want to prevent injuring wildlife.”

But if you do encounter an injured or dead animal, call the RAPP Line at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) or #7277 on the TELUS Mobility Network.



monique.Tamminga@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The regional district’s Penticton offices. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Building and bylaw service up in 2020 for RDOS

More complaints were resolved and building permits issued in 2020 than 2019

The next Canadian census will be held in May, 2021. The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is urging its residents to complete the census form online. (Statistics Canada)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen urges participation in census

National census will be held in May, 2021 with COVID-19 protocols in place

Calls for potential overdoses in B.C. spiked in 2020, especially in the Okanagan - Shuswap. Pictured above is a BCEHS re-enactment of paramedics attending an overdose. (BCHES)
Overdose calls spike in 2020 across the Okanagan – Shuswap

Stats show every major community in Okanagan - Shuswap increased in calls for potential overdoses

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: COVID-19 restrictions continue to affect us all

Canada has recorded more than 700,000 confirmed cases of pandemic

The BC SPCA is adapting its fundraising after cancelling events due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
BC SPCA gets creative with fundraising as pandemic continues

The non-profit’s in-person fundraising events all had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)
Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a single-vehicle rollover Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, after a vehicle came into contact with a pedestrian light pole at Kalamalka Lake Road and 14th Avenue. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Minor injuries in rollover after vehicle hits Vernon crosswalk pole

The vehicle flipped onto its side, closing Kalamalka Lake Road

Penticton city council heard from Dhorea Ramanula, of Paid Employment for People with Lived Experiences Tuesday, Jan. 19. Ramanula’s organization has operated public washrooms in Kelowna staffed by community support workers since April, she says Penticton could benefit from a similar facility. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)
Penticton interested in new public washroom concept to combat vandalism

Public washrooms with on-site support staff have been operating in Kelowna since April

Canada Post had remove a lot of letter boxes around Penticton after they were vandalized. This letter box at the United Church on Main St. remains unscathed. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Street mailbox vandals strike Penticton drop boxes

Canada Post had to remove a bunch of the vandalized units

Esa Carriere, 23, was the victim of a 2018 Canada Day homicide. (File)
Youth sentenced in Kelowna Canada Day killing

Young woman pleaded guilty to lesser assault charge, sentenced to 15-month intensive support and supervision program

A rendering of UBC’s planned downtown Kelowna campus. (Contributed)
Kelowna’s new downtown campus to help alleviate UBCO’s space crunch

The sizable development is anticipated to be completed by the fall 2024 semester

Most Read