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

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Alexandra “Annabelle” Lee and her grandpa Bryan Weightman enjoyed a shopping spree at the Sicamous Askew’s foods location after Weightman won a draw for a gift card. (Submitted)
Sicamous seven-year-old fills grandparents’ shopping cart after contest win

When her grandparents won an Askew’s Foods gift card, Alexandra Lee got to handle the shopping

Staff at R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum and community partners are preparing several interactive contests to help celebrate the 25th annual Heritage Week, Feb. 15 to 21. (Contributed)
Public to play interactive role in Salmon Arm Heritage Week celebration

R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum silent auction to kick off events on Feb. 15

A large portion of Anglemont is without running water due to a water main break on Jan. 26. (CSRD Image)
A large part of Anglemont in the North Shuswap is without water due to a water line break on Jan. 26. (Black Press File Photo)
Broken water main leaves Shuswap community without running water

The water line has left Anglemont residents either without water or with low pressure.

(Pixabay)
‘Roadmap out of COVID-19’: Innovate BC’s program helping businesses recover

CEO Raghwa Gopal said the tech sector is here to help brick and mortar businesses

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to reports of a structure fire on Valleyview Place Jan. 26, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
Fire snuffed in Vernon home

No visible smoke, flames from area of reported structure fire

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Kevin Lee Barrett pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault of his mother Eleanor Holmes on Tuesday, Jan. 26. (File)
West Kelowna man who beat his mom could be sentenced up to 9 years

Kevin Barrett entered a surprise guilty plea to the lesser charge of aggravated assault on Tuesday morning

Interior Health reported two more COVID-19 deaths at Sunnybank Retirement Center in Oliver Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 claims lives of two more South Okanagan care home residents

Five residents of the Oliver care home have died since the outbreak was first declared

Vernon now has an approved 13 cannabis shops in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon, the ‘Pot capital of B.C.’ greenlights two new stores downtown

Two more shops, within 240 metres, approved, despite neighbouring businesses opposition

11 more cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a cluster on Big White Mountain. Pictured above is TELUS park at Big White Ski Resort, Jan. 26. (Big White Ski Resort)
11 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

This brings the total case count to 225, according to health authorities in a Tuesday update

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

Oliver Elementary School
Former Oliver PAC treasurer charged with fraud returns to court

Belinda Yorke will be in court to fix a date for trial in February

Most Read