BY COLETTE DERWORIZ, CALGARY HERALD
CALGARY – It’s been a rough couple of weeks for wolves in the Rockies after two were killed on highways and a third required a concerted effort to get it to safety.
Early last Tuesday, parks officials received reports that a wolf was spotted on the TransCanada Highway about five kilometres east of Castle Junction.
“It was probably close to four hours that the wolf was entrapped within the fenced area,” said Steve Michel, human wildlife conflict specialist with Banff National Park.
The unmarked wolf, believed to be a young female dispersing from the Kootenay pack, likely got on to the highway at Castle Junction where the fencing ends and no extra wildlife mitigation measures are in place.
Four resource management officers and a park warden responded to the calls at first light Tuesday and closed the TransCanada Highway for about 20 minutes while they tried to get the wolf back behind the fencing.
Michel said they were able to get it to safety by opening some of the gates along the highway.
“It is quite a challenge with wolves because they are very fast,” he said. “They startle easily.
“We were able to corral her in the direction of one particular gate and then she finally realized there was an open gate there and she went through it.”
Michel said it didn’t appear that the wolf had any injuries after the incident.
In the week prior to the most recent incident, however, two wolves were killed by vehicles driving through the mountain parks.
On Jan. 26, an adult Grey Wolf was hit by a vehicle on Highway 93N about 1.5 kilometres south of Rampart Creek.
Three days earlier, a young, black-coloured wolf was struck and killed on the TransCanada Highway near the Chancellor Peak campground on the west end of Yoho.
“They’re magnificent animals and we regret the loss of these wolves,” said Omar McDadi, a Parks Canada spokesman for Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay national parks.
Neither of the areas where the two wolves were killed have highway fencing.
Parks officials are currently evaluating the Castle Junction, among other interchanges, where electrified mats and other mitigation measures could be installed to prevent wildlife from getting onto the TransCanada Highway.