Wildlife Crossings

September 10, 2018

WildlifeCrossing_IMG_2183 (1) September 2018 Viewer's Choice
: Patti Weeks 
Summary Author: Patti Weeks 

Many roads that cut through natural wildlife habitats — used both for leisure and for commerce — fragment animal territories and interfere with critical migratory routes. As the growing traffic volume on these busy highways increases, the potential for vehicle-animal clashes also goes up, often with unfortunate consequences. To make roads safer for animals and people, conservationists across the world have been creating natural-like passages for animals over or under our manufactured roadway barriers.

Pictured here is one of the 6 wildlife overpasses on the 51 mi (82 km) stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway in Alberta’s Banff National Park. One of the most popular destinations in the Canadian Rockies, the park reports approximately 17,000 people driving on this road each day through the home territory of a large and healthy wildlife population. In an effort to balance the coexistence of humans and wildlife, the conservation-minded Parks Canada Agency completed the first wildlife crossing in 1997, a project which, at first, received much skepticism as to its cost-effectiveness. Now, over 20 years later, the project is a worldwide conservation success with 44 crossings — 6 overpasses and 38 underpasses — which are mitigating Capturewildlife fatalities by a significant 80 percent. The reconnection of wildlife territories has helped maintain genetic diversity of many of the resident animal populations. Among the mammals using the crossings are grizzly bears, black bears, moose, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, wolves, cougars, coyotes, wolverine and lynx.

The efficacy of these crossings is documented year-round. Using infrared cameras and trackpads, researchers have documented over 200,000 large mammal passes. The number and types of wildlife crossings in Banff National Park and its associated research database is unparalleled in the world. Scientists from several U.S. states and other countries, such as China, Mongolia and Argentina, have come to Banff to learn how to create similar projects to meet their specific needs.

The insert photo of a black bear was taken quite likely after it emerged from a highway underpass along the Bow River. Top photo taken on June 12 and the inset on June 14, 2018.

Photo Details: Top - Camera: Apple iPhone 7: Exposure Time: 0.0005s (1/2037); Aperture: ƒ/1.8; ISO equivalent: 20; Focal Length (35mm): 28. Inset: same except - Exposure Time: 0.0005s (1/2128); Digital Zoom Ratio: 5.007x; Focal Length (35mm): 170.