Highway wildlife crossing a success, finds study
Benefits to wildlife and people demonstrate economic sense, says Parks Canada road ecologist
New research shows a wildlife underpass is reducing the number of collisions between animals and vehicles on the Trans-Canada Highway near Canmore, Alta.
The animal crossing at Dead Man's Flats, which includes three kilometres of fencing along a section of the busy highway, was built in 2004.
A joint study conducted by the Miistakis Institute and Western Transportation Institute says since the crossing was built the number of collisions has dropped from an average of 12 a year to just three.
The crossing cost more than $1 million to build, but study co-author Tony Clevenger says it was worth it.
"When you start adding up the costs of all these accidents over the long term, it pays for itself quite quickly," he said.
The study found the cost of the accidents dropped from roughly $130,000 a year to $18,000.
5 other crossing sites recommended
The report recommends fencing and crossings go up at five other sites along the same stretch of highway in the Bow Valley parkway.
The study also suggests highway crossings should not just be reserved for protected areas and parks.
"In addition to the fact that we know all the other benefits to wildlife and to people, this now demonstrates that it makes economic sense," said Trevor Kinley, a road ecologist with Parks Canada.
The study was funded by the Kananaskis Summit Environmental Legacy Fund established in 2002 at the G8 Summit in Kananaskis, and administered by the Alberta Ecotrust Foundation. It has been sent to the provincial government for review.
Study partners also created an illustration on "how wildlife crossing structures work, the volume of animals using them in Banff National Park and the cost effectiveness of expanding or building roadways with both people and animals in mind" — which is attached below.
With files from CBC's Allison Dempster