Banff extends electrified sections of wildlife fence to keep bears off Trans-Canada Highway

Banff National Park is extending a pilot project to electrify wildlife fence along the Trans-Canada Highway, in order to discourage black bears from climbing the fence and getting on the road.

The strategy involves an electric wire strung about a metre off the ground along the wilderness side of a wildlife fence, which can give fence-climbing bears a non-lethal shock.

Officials hope it prompts the bears to choose other travel routes, such as nearby wildlife crossings.

Parks Canada human-wildlife specialist Dan Rafla says the bears may try to climb fences because they’re looking for food like dandelions along highway ditches or a simply seeking an easy a travel route.

“Keeping wildlife off the highways does reduce the risk of a vehicle collision,” he said.

The project started last spring with five kilometres of electrified fence near the Banff townsite.

  • WATCH | This video from June 2020 about the fence pilot project:

In the name of safety, a stretch of Banff’s wildlife fence will now zap bears that try to climb over to eat greener grass on the otherside. 1:58

Parks staff have now wired up another nine kilometres further west at other bear hot spots.

“Really, the goal is to try and reduce the number of fence intrusions,” Rafla said. “You’ll likely never get rid of all of them.”

He said there have been no reported or observed fence intrusions by bears along the first electrified section this past year, a stretch that typically saw 15 to 20 before the electrification.

Parks Canada says it also mows the ditches to reduce food attractants for the bears.

The fences are electrified from early spring to early winter.

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