First half of 2017 has seen 7 bears killed compared to a total of 8 last year
Parks Canada officials say they are doing what they can to prevent wildlife deaths on highways and along train tracks after seven black bears were killed in the first half of the year, compared to eight throughout 2016.
Four of the bears were killed when they were hit by vehicles on the Trans-Canada Highway running through Banff National Park — the most recent about five weeks ago near the Norquay exit.
“When a bear does get over the fence or crosses one of the cattle guards, which black bears can do fairly readily, it’s a fairly dangerous situation, there’s just so many cars on that roadway,” said Bill Hunt, a resource conservation manager for Parks Canada.
An average of eight black bears are killed annually by motorists and trains travelling through the three national parks — Banff, Yoho and Kootenay — west of Calgary.
Hunt says officials have tried installing different types of fencing along highway corridors, and using electrified mats in places where animals might try to cross roads or railway tracks.
“We’ve spent a lot of effort mitigating the Trans-Canada Highway because of the amount of traffic and the risk to wildlife and to visitors, striking a vehicle at highway speeds,” he said.
“We had problems with wolves and bears getting under the fence and we now have a buried apron. It’s actually about a [one metre] deep section of chain link we bury underneath the fence, then it’s individually stitched all the way along so they can’t dig their way under.”
That’s stopped animals from going under the fences, but bears can easily climb the poles.
Hunt says visitors to the parks can help reduce the deaths by obeying speed limits and reporting wildlife on the roads.