Did you know that the Trans Canada Highway cuts through Banff National Park, Canada’s first National Park but did you ever wonder how an animal crosses the road? Having the world’s longest national road bisect the country’s premier national park poses a unique and very serious challenge for wildlife safety. To address this challenge, Banff first put up extensive wildlife fencing on either side of the highway, discouraging animals from entering the busy road. Then, since 1996, they’ve opened six wildlife overpasses and 38 underpasses, which has allowed for more than 140,000 documented safe wildlife crossings.
What is also very interesting is that there are some animals in the park that learn to use the crossings much quicker than others. Coyotes, black bears and cougars are fastest, followed by deer, elk, and moose. Grizzly bears and wolves take the longest to figure out how to use them, and it is believed (though not confirmed) that lynx and wolverines are fairly delayed in using them. These carnivores might be slower to adapt because they are more capable and determined at working their way through the highway fences.
There is some criticism that channeling so much wildlife into a few bridges and tunnels is like making a trap for the animals, granting predators an easy meal on either side, but after years of research it has been shown that this is not the case. There are no more killings around the crossings than there are anywhere else in the park.
When you travel on a CTE Tour your Tour Director will point out these unique animal crossings and point out the original fences built to keep the wildlife safe from highway traffic. Best part of visiting the Parks, we can spot wildlife at any given time and we always do our best to allow you time to take pictures of the wildlife in their natural environs.