By: Cathy Ellis
Another wolf has been killed on the unfenced portion of the Trans-Canada Highway east of Canmore – the second wolf fatality in as many weeks.
A female yearling was killed about one kilometre west of Dead Man’s Flats on the eastbound lane of the highway, Monday (Nov. 27). This follows the death of another young female on the highway near the 1X intersection on Nov. 10.
“It’s always disappointing,” said Jay Honeyman, a human-wildlife conflict specialist with Alberta Environment and Parks.
“It speaks to the continued challenge of finding ways for wildlife to move safely through the Bow Valley.”
The wolf was killed at a fenced portion of highway. It’s not known how the wolf got onto the highway, but the fence isn’t in great condition in places.
The recent deaths have renewed calls for a comprehensive mitigation plan to keep wildlife off the highway from the Banff National Park east gate east to the Kananaskis River.
The plan would include fencing and animal crossing structures to stop the premature death of the area’s wildlife as well as to improve the safety for drivers who hit these animals.
The Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) Conservation Initiative says recent wolf mortalities highlight the need for the provincial government to take decisive action to mitigate the deadly effects of the highway on wildlife movement through the valley.
“Despite knowing the importance of these cross-valley wildlife movement corridors for 20 years now, we’re still trying to figure out how to stop wolves from being killed on the highway,” said Stephen Legault, a program director for Y2Y.
“The solution requires us to spend money, and it’s a hard argument to make in Alberta right now, but the costs of not investing in green infrastructure is that we lose wildlife.”
In 2016, the provincial government invested $280,000 in a 2.4-metre high fence to protect animals along a critical wildlife corridor on Highway 3 near Crowsnest Lake and Emerald Lake.
Legault said the individual loss of life is a shame in the case of any wildlife death, but noted Y2Y is talking about genetic residency across the entire Y2Y region.
“It’s the ability of not just an individual, but the entire population, to survive and thrive at a large landscape level,” he said.
“We know the Bow Valley is major pinch point for wildlife movement, and development and the highway is putting at risk the ability of wide ranging species like grizzly bears and wolves to survive over time.”
Recently, the Canmore area has seen a modest increase in wolf activity.
There have been eight records of wolves using the Stewart Creek wildlife underpass east of Canmore since the end of September – the first time cameras have picked up wolves in that underpass in almost 20 years.