Safe highway crossings in the Bow Valley - Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

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Safe highway crossings in the Bow Valley

Photo of bighorn sheep on an Alberta road, Shutterstock

Y2Y is advocating to the Alberta government for wildlife overpasses and fencing to help decrease wildlife-vehicle collisions in the Bow Valley east of Banff National Park.

What is the threat?

The Bow Valley is one of the most important regional wildlife corridors in Alberta and the broader Yellowstone to Yukon region. Busy highways in the area pose a threat to wildlife and people through wildlife-vehicle collisions. They are also a major barrier to the wide-ranging movements that connect individual animals with diverse habitats and mates.  

A broad range of wildlife use the Bow River valley bottom to move between the protected areas of Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country including:

  • Deer
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Elk
  • Grizzly bears
  • Moose
  • Lynx
  • Wolves
  • Black bears
  • Cougars

What is the opportunity? 

You can help make Highway 1 safer and improve wildlife movement in the Bow Valley east of Banff National Park at Bow Valley Gap.

This high-collision spot is about five km east of Lac Des Arcs and 15 km from Canmore. With protected lands on both sides of the highway, landscape shape that would make construction cheaper, and known high-volume use by wide-ranging species, it’s an ideal location for an innovative, cost-effective and efficiently-built highway overpass and fencing.  

Humans on the highway: By the numbers

  • 22,000: Average daily number of vehicles traveling the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) through the Bow Valley. In the summer, this number swells to 34,000 per day, nearly one every 2.5 seconds.
  • 69: Average annual number of vehicle-wildlife collisions on the 39-kilometre stretch of the TCH between Banff National Park and Highway 40
  • $750,000: The approximate annual cost of those collisions (as of 2021)
  • 5: Average number of people killed in wildlife-vehicle collisions annually, province-wide
  • 300: Average number of people injured in wildlife-vehicle collisions annually, province-wide
  • 50%: of reported collisions on Alberta’s rural highways are wildlife-related

How we will accomplish this 

We are advocating for a highway crossing structure and fencing with the Alberta Government. There is an opportunity for a long-term plan for highway-wildlife mitigation in the Bow Valley east of Banff National Park at Bow Valley Gap.

What Y2Y is doing

As of 2022, Alberta Transportation is working with contractors to build an overpass and fencing at Bow Valley Gap, with construction due for completion by late 2023. The Stoney Nakoda Exshaw Wildlife Arch is Alberta’s first overpass outside a national park.

We continue to stress the value of investing in overpass construction by encouraging residents, local businesses, and those who regularly use the highway to contact their elected representatives.

As more visitors come to the Bow Valley, wildlife-vehicle collision rates will only increase. We can help solve this problem together, now.  

You can help our work by:

  • Advocating to see more wildlife crossings at other priority spots in Alberta
  • Speaking up for wildlife safety in the corridor between Banff National Park gates east to Highway 40
Black bear crosses highway | Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative
A black bear crosses a road. Photo: Shutterstock

Solution for a major barrier to wildlife

We know that these crossings work. Research shows mitigation infrastructure in Banff National Park has reduced the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions by as much as 95 percent.

We continue to work with partners to identify additional priority areas for fencing, crossings and other mitigation in the Bow Valley as well as the broader Y2Y region in Alberta, including essential crossing infrastructure on Highway 3 near Crowsnest Pass.

“Adding a wildlife overpass east of Banff National Park offers a proven solution to a known problem. Animals like elk, deer and bears need to cross the road at Bow Valley Gap, and this overpass will help them do it in a way that is safe for them and for the many thousands of people driving this highway every day.”

Adam Linnard, program manager at Y2Y

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