Calgary

Banff Park hopes to save more animals with $26M boost to highway fence

A decades-old fence that has failed to keep some wildlife off the highway near Banff will get a $26-million upgrade starting this summer to make it tougher for critters to climb over or crawl under.

New highway fence has reinforcements that weren't considered 25+ years ago

Bill Hunt says the new fencing has reinforcements not considered 25 years ago 0:27

A decades-old fence that has failed to keep some wildlife off the highway near Banff will get a $26 million upgrade starting this summer to make it tougher for critters to climb over or crawl under.

Park officials say the new fence will help prevent accidents such as one involving a black bear that was killed in June when it hopped the structure.

Bill Hunt with Parks Canada says the new fence has reinforcements that weren't considered when the original was built more than 25 years ago.

It looks similar to the untrained eye, but the fence is now looser at the top, so it's not stiff enough for bears to climb.

Bill Hunt with Parks Canada says the new fence is looser at the top so bears shouldn't be able to climb it as easily. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

And it goes deeper into the ground.

"It's to prevent grizzly bears, black bears and wolves from digging under the fence," Hunt said.

"In the earlier older section of fence we didn't have that available and we found that animals were able to dig their way under the fence."

Tyler McClure is a spokesperson for WildSmart, a program that specializes in human-wildlife interactions.

Tyler McClure with WildSmart says often animals can adapt when faced with fences or walls. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

He says animals have adapted to the fence and as humans we have to try to stay a step ahead.

"Animals don't always do what we expect them to. Quite often we'll put up things like fences or walls to keep them away and we'll learn the creative ways they can react to those new structures," McClure said.

All the fencing between Canmore and the Sunshine Interchange will be replaced over the next two years. It will cost $26 million.