By Steve Hubrecht
A Columbia Valley business has been lending its support to the cause of Radium’s bighorn sheep in a very visible way.
Kootenay Clothing Company began selling t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, stickers and bumper stickers emblazoned with ‘Slow Your Roll, Save the Sheep’ logos a few weeks ago. The message is meant to raise awareness about the detrimental effect speeding is having on the village’s resident population of bighorns, and the company is donating 100 per cent of the proceeds to efforts to help the sheep.
The bighorns have been attracting local and national attention through the winter, with what is on track to be a record number of sheep fatalities stemming from the animals being hit by vehicles in and around the village. A total of 14 have been hit since the sheep’s fall rut started in late November. Out of those 14 fatalities, six occurred in November and December 2021, and eight in 2022. The numbers are alarming, as on average, a given calendar year sees about 10 bighorns killed. In 2021, coinciding with the TransCanada diversion sending huge traffic volumes through the Columbia Valley, that figure surged to 15 sheep fatalities. But even this terrible record seems poised to be broken in 2022, with eight sheep already killed only two months into the year.
Government agencies and the Village of Radium itself are making all kinds of efforts to improve the situation, and a long-term solution in the form of a wildlife overpass and wildlife fencing is in the works. In the meantime, provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) contractors are patrolling Radium Hill, just south of the village on Highway 93 to help make sure drivers aren’t speeding recklessly.
But local residents and businesses are also getting involved, including Kootenay Clothing Company.
The company launched its ‘Slow Your Roll’ clothing and stickers back at the end of January, and sales have been brisk through February, Kootenay Clothing Company Owner Andrea Tubbs told the Pioneer.
“I just thought t-shirts are something we can do to help out,” said Tubbs.
Tubbs reached out to Radium resident Nicole Trigg, who had started the Help the Radium Bighorn Herd Facebook group to draw attention to the issue, and Trigg readily agreed that a ‘Slow Your Roll’ clothing campaign would be of benefit.
“Then it all just sort of came together from there,” said Tubbs. “The response has been good.”
When the Pioneer talked with Tubbs on Friday, Feb. 25, Kootenay Clothing Company has sold 55 hoodies and sweatshirts and 42 t-shirts in less than a month, shipping them as far east as Ontario, and as far west as the Lower Mainland.
The result is that the clothing and sticker campaign has so far raised $2,222 towards the wildlife overpass.
“We’re super excited to see people interested in the products, and more importantly, interested in the cause,” said Tubbs, adding that she’s started to notice ‘Slow Your Roll’ bumper stickers on a number of vehicles around the village.
“This is another case of local people in the community taking initiative, and we appreciate it very much,” Radium Mayor Clara Reinhardt told the Pioneer, adding she too has noticed an increasing number of ‘Slow Your Roll’ bumper stickers around the community, and that in fact her daughter recently put one on her vehicle to take to Calgary.
Visit the Village of Radium Hot Spring’s live donation page for the overpass at radiumhotsprings.ca/save-our-sheep/ or check out Kootenay Clothing Company’s campaign at www.kootenayclothingco.com/collections/save-the-sheep.