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Wildlife Crossing Structures

Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada is one of the best places to study the effectiveness of wildlife crossing structures. The busy Trans-Canada Highway cuts east-west across the park, making it difficult for wildlife to travel north-south through the Rocky Mountains. When the highway was upgraded in the 1980's from a single two-lane road to a four-lane divided highway, it became increasingly busy and escalating vehicle-wildlife collisions threatened the safety of both humans and wildlife.

wolf underpass

A wolf uses an underpass. This
photo was taken with a remote
sensing camera.
Courtesy of WTI/Parks Canada

To improve safety and increase wildlife mobility, Y2Y and other groups supported the construction of wildlife crossings along the highway. Fencing along the highway was also installed to keep animals off the roads and direct them towards the safe crossings. Today there are four overpasses and 24 underpasses in Banff National Park, and more are being constructed near Lake Louise.

In the summer this stretch of highway sees over 25,000 vehicles per day, translating to one car passing every two-to-three seconds. Without safe crossing places the impact on wildlife and human safety would be disastrous.

Today there are six overpasses and 39 underpasses in Banff National Park, and four more underpasses are being constructed near Lake Louise and will be completed by the end of 2013.

Since the wildlife crossing structures were built more than a decade ago, over 142,947 crossings have been detected and mortality rates on the highway have dropped by more than 80 percent. Twelve species of large mammals have used the crossing structures including grizzly and black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars, moose, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and more recently, wolverine and lynx.

  • View trailer for Highway Wilding documentary

For more information on Highway Wilding, please click here.

  • View website which aims to raise awareness and improve decision making around road development in sensitive ecological areas such as national parks and beyond.
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