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Wildlife Corridors in the Bow Valley

The role and function of wildlife corridors in maintaining connectivity in the lower Bow Valley are becoming increasingly important if healthy wildlife populations are to persist (Clevenger et al. 2002).

Bow Valley wildlife underpass
(Photo J. Honeyman)

Wildlife underpasses along the Trans Canada highway and wildlife highway fencing were also created to assist wildlife in moving across the valley safely. Wildlife corridors within the Bow Valley were created to help mitigate concerns over habitat fragmentation and loss of habitat connectivity. They also allow wildlife to bypass human communities, thereby reducing the likelihood of wildlife-human conflicts. The importance of corridors is stressed in a report by the Bow Corridor Ecosystem Advisory Group (BCEAG): "Habitat abandonment by wildlife due to high levels of human activity is a common occurrence" and "increased contact with humans is directly linked to increased human/wildlife interactions…and in the case of bears is directly linked to increased mortality" (BCEAG 1999).

From a bear-hazard perspective, some wildlife corridors in the Bow Valley are adjacent to human developments containing concentrated nodes of human activity. As a result, both people and wildlife, including large carnivores, use the corridors. Carnivores, such as some bears that are wary of people, may decide to stay away from the fringe areas of corridors adjacent to developments. Other bears that are not as wary of people may not and, if attractants are available, may choose to ignore the presence of humans in exchange for access to food resources. Specific management practices have been adopted to reduce wildlife-human interactions within corridors and habitat patches including seasonal and temporary trail closures, human-use monitoring, enforcement of leash laws and educational messaging pertaining to wildlife corridors.

Bow Valley wildlife corridors, habitat patches and underpasses

References:

Clevenger, A.P., B. Chruszcz, K. Gunson and M. Brumfit. 2002.
Highway Mitigation Monitoring, Three Sisters Parkway Interchange.
Final report. Alberta Environment, Canmore, Alberta.

BCEAG. 1999. Wildlife corridor and habitat patch guidelines for the Bow Valley. Revised 1999.
Prepared for Municipal District of Bighorn, Town of Canmore, Banff National Park, Government of Alberta.


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