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Pique: What challenges do you
currently face and what challenges lay ahead?
PC: Learning more about how
populations of wildlife benefit from the crossings. Until now, our research has
addressed individuals, i.e., responses of different species to crossing types
and total number of times different species use the 24 crossings. For
transportation agencies to be convinced of the real benefits (and investment
cost-benefits) we need to be able to demonstrate scientifically their
importance to populations in terms of (1) survival of individuals within the
population and (2) how the crossings facilitate movement of all ages and sexes,
including breeding and reproduction. We are currently engaged in a three-year
research project using a noninvasive DNA-based technique to provide answers to
that question and using black and grizzly bears as the study species.
Perhaps the largest challenge
I see in the long-term is how transportation agencies are going to be able to
accommodate the growing transportation needs in the future. This is really
unsustainable ecologically and governments, politicians and transportation
agencies are going to need to take a serious look at less fossil fuel-dependent
means of transportation and moving towards increased public transportation
systems (e.g. rail).
Pique: Have other areas with
similar issues around Canada looked to Banff National Park for solutions or
PC: Yes. Banff is unique
worldwide. Banff is the only large-scale highway mitigation complex in the
world. Most highway mitigation projects for wildlife have at most four to five
wildlife crossings, whereas Banff has 24 large crossings on 45-km of the
Trans-Canada Highway. Eight additional crossings are being built today along
the segment of the TCH now being upgraded near Lake Louise. For this reason, we
have engineers and biologists from all over the world visiting Banff and
speaking with our wildlife research team and Highway Service Centre Director,
Pique: Will anything be done
differently for the next section of highway expansion?