'Electro-mats' used to deter wildlife away from Banff train tracks

Parks Canada is studying the use of electrified mats to keep wildlife away from the Canadian Pacific Railway train tracks in Banff National Park.

Project part of a 5-year study to reduce deaths of animals along the CP rail line

Parks Canada is studying the use of electified mats to keep wildlife away from train tracks in Banff National Park. 2:02

Parks Canada is studying the use of electrified mats to keep wildlife away from the Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway train tracks in Banff National Park. 

  • CBC's Terri Trembath went out to find how the electrified mats work. Watch the video above for an explanation.

Right now they are being tested at sites built to mimic a fenced railway line. The so-called "electro-mats" are placed at the fence openings. 

Jen Theberge, a wildlife ecologist in Banff, says they have had a 100 per cent success rate in the summer months.

But in winter the charge can drop when the mats are covered with snow.

Jen Theberge, a wildlife ecologist in Banff, says the purpose of the "electro-mats" is to keep wildlife - particularily grizzly bears - away from the train tracks. (CBC)

"We had five incursions last winter across a snow-covered mat. And so this winter we'll be working with the design, tweaking it, putting in some electric coils in conjunction with CPs in the manner that they would be able to implement and we will look to see if we can increase our success rate through the winter."

Theberge says the project is all part of a five-year study that started in 2011 to reduce deaths of animals along the CP rail line.

According to Parks Canada, 12 grizzlies have been killed on the tracks in the last 10 years. 

After the study wraps in 2016, Parks Canada and CP rail will then decide if the mats should be placed along the tracks. 

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