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Helping wildlife across a busy highway
On the afternoon of July 16, Parks Canada’s Alex Taylor, a human-wildlife conflict specialist in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks, snapped incredible images of a female moose and her young calf traversing Kootenay National Park’s Vermilion River near Marble Canyon.
Alex was patrolling Highway 93 South for wildlife that day, and pulled over to keep visitors a safe distance away once he noticed the moose.
“As I looked down on the river from the edge of the road I spotted the calf in the water frantically trying to swim back to the far shore, about to be swept down a little canyon. The calf managed to gain the shore only a couple of metres from an almost certain watery ending.”
Alex then watched as the calf caught up with its mother to browse on vegetation on the far shore, 100m away. After a few minutes, the moose family moved back into the water.
“It looked like a very strong current. I think we all held our breath wondering if the calf could make it through again - water levels were still high after massive June rains and heavy melt after record-breaking snowfall.”
Once it became apparent both moose were going to successfully cross the river, Alex turned his attention towards the busy highway.
“I was concerned that if they did get across the river, they would very quickly be on the busy road, so I moved out to control traffic.”
Luckily there were only a few cars coming from both directions and they stopped in good time, allowing the moose to tentatively tip-toe across the asphalt before disappearing in the forest.
“Between avoiding predators, crossing raging rivers and the countless other challenges of surviving in the wild, moose also have to contend with the roads and traffic. After the adrenaline of such a unique sighting had died down, I realized that it felt great to help these critters out, even in a small way.”
With lots of wildlife hanging around roadsides, Parks Canada recently issued a wildlife alert for Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks asking drivers to respect speed limits and to drive vigilantly in consideration of wildlife. Visitors are asked to report wildlife sightings by calling 1-888-WARDENS.