Travelers on the Trans-Canada Highway through the Lake Louise area are going to have to slow down this summer after Parks Canada implemented reduced speed zones.
Parks Canada spokesperson Omar McDadi said the reductions are not new and have been seasonal since 2003, but over the past few years they have been achieved as part of construction speed zones.
“It is not a new initiative, but it is something we really want to highlight,” McDadi said. “This is being emphasized to get people to give animals space and be vigilant while driving on the highway, especially at dawn and dusk.”
A prolonged cool, wet spring has delayed vegetation growth in higher elevations meaning wildlife, in particular bears, are in search of food in the valley bottoms where not only food is present but major transportation routes present a hazard.
McDadi said speed reduction zones for the time being are limited to the Lake Louise area and are focused on known wildlife hotspots.
Those hotspots are particularly in areas that do not have wildlife fencing or the fencing installed as part of recent construction has yet to be fully complete.
In total, nine kilometres will have a speed zone reduced to 70 km/h from 90 km/h and will be actively enforced by local RCMP.
Two weeks ago, a large male grizzly was killed on the Trans-Canada just west of Lake Louise.