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Wolf pup killed on highway

A wolf pup was run over and killed on the Trans-Canada Highway Sunday (Aug. 28) – the second pup to be killed along the transportation corridor in Banff National Park this summer.

A wolf pup was run over and killed on the Trans-Canada Highway Sunday (Aug. 28) – the second pup to be killed along the transportation corridor in Banff National Park this summer.

The death of the young male wolf happened about five kilometres east of Castle Mountain at about 7:30 a.m. and, while wildlife authorities suspect the pup was a member of the Bow Valley pack, they can’t say for sure.

“Any time we have an animal like this that’s lost within the transportation corridor, it’s a real shame,” said Steve Michel, human-wildlife conflict specialist for Banff National Park.

“As unfortunate as those mortalities are, the reality is that we do lose a couple of wolves every year on average in the transportation corridor.”

Michel said the wolf populations appear to be doing reasonably well in the Bow Valley and are able to sustain that level of human-caused mortality at this point.

“We’d like that mortality to be zero and we’ll always strive to do better,” he said.

“We hope that one day down the road, we can get to the point where all wildlife will only perish as a result of natural causes, not human caused and accidental in the transportation corridor.”

Earlier this summer, a male wolf pup from this year’s litter was killed on the Canadian Pacific Railway about six kms west of Castle Mountain on July 19. He was a member of the Bow Valley wolf pack.

On Monday (Aug. 29), the Bow Valley pack was observed with five pups, which would be consistent with earlier sightings of seven pups seen running with the pack this spring given the two reported mortalities.

Michel said there are believed to be four adults in the Bow Valley pack, but noted pack numbers are quite dynamic and can fluctuate throughout the season.

He said wildlife officials couldn’t say for sure that the pup killed on Sunday was a member of the Bow Valley pack, but their best guess is it was.

“We’re not 100 per cent sure, but the assumption is it is part of the pack that’s occupying the Bow Valley,” he said.

“It is a possibility it could be an animal from the north end of Kootenay because they certainly make forays into the area.”

Michel said Parks Canada is also not sure how the wolf got onto the highway, which is fenced in the area in which the young pup was killed.

He said the wolf may have gotten under the fence where there is no buried apron, or crossed over a cattle guard at an interchange or through the construction zone on the west side of Castle Mountain.

“With wolves, in particular, they do travel quite quickly and over long distances,” said Michel.

“Where animals are struck and killed is not necessarily indicative of where they accessed the highway. There’s a variety of possibilities and we don’t know the exact location or how this wolf got onto the highway.”

Michel said he urges motorists to stick to the posted speed limit on national park roads.

“Any time the public is travelling in the national park, whether it’s in an area like the Trans-Canada Highway that’s fenced, or on secondary roads, we ask people to obey the speed limit at all times,” he said.

“We also urge them to be vigilant and watch for wildlife, particularly in times of low light such as dawn or dusk.”

Rocky Mountain Outlook

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