The Rocky Mountains are a special place, but it just wouldn’t be as spectacular if not for the birds, bears, deer and moose who call it home. In fact, there are so many four-legged creatures in the area that the government of Canada has built animal-only structures to protect them from travellers visiting a vacation hotspot.
In addition to 82 km of highway fencing, Banff National Park is home to six overpasses and 38 underpasses known as the Alberta Wildlife Crossings – the largest collection of structures and enclosures “in a single location on the entire planet,” according to Parks Canada.
Lined with trees, grass and flowers to mimic a more natural environment, this project is meant to keep our furry counterparts happy, undisturbed and above all – safe, but the work will never be done!
This particular project began in 1996 and is considered the longest ongoing wildlife crossing research and monitoring program in the world – as if Parks Canada wasn’t impressive enough already.
So do they actually work? The answer is absolutely!
“It took up to five years for some wary species, like grizzly bears, to start using wildlife crossing structures,” Parks Canada wrote.
“However, most species are now using them to safely cross the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH). Since fencing and crossing structures were first constructed, wildlife-vehicle collisions have dropped by more than 80%.”
Heck, each animal even has a preference!
“Wildlife use underpasses and overpasses alike; however, when given a choice each species seems to have distinct preferences. Grizzly bears, wolves, elk, moose and deer prefer crossing structures that are high, wide and short in length, while black bears and cougars tend to prefer long, low and narrow underpasses.”
So, next time you’re in the park, if you can, look up before going under! You might just see Bambi crossing the road above.
It’s a pretty cool sight …. from a distance! Please remember that human use of the Alberta Wildlife Crossings is prohibited in Banff National Park.
Happy driving and enjoy.