Two young wolves were found dead on the Trans-Canada Highway earlier this week.
A one-year-old female wolf was found dead in the ditch on June 9 close to the Sunshine interchange and a one-year-old male was struck in the early morning hours of June 11, about seven kilometres east of Castle Junction.
Parks Canada officials say they suspect both young wolves were members of the Bow Valley pack.
“We’re certainly disappointed anytime we have a mortality on the TCH, especially a sensitive large carnivore,” said Steve Michel, human-wildlife conflict specialist for Banff National Park.
“As unfortunate as these mortalities are and we wish we could eliminate them, we recognize there will be some level of intrusion onto the highway, but it would be our hope in the future it can be eliminated.”
Michel said it’s suspected the two young wolves got onto the Trans-Canada Highway by crossing cattle guards.
He said the cattle guard at the Sunshine interchange – which is located in high quality habitat and the confluence of a couple of drainages – is known for carnivore intrusions.
“Cattle guards are a specific weakness we’ve identified in our wildlife mitigation work on the highway and we’re working towards fixing that,” Michel said.
“We are monitoring a number of these cattle guards with remote cameras and experimenting with things like electro-mats to see if we can reduce the permeability of these locations.”
Before denning and these two recent wolf deaths, the Bow Valley pack is believed to have consisted of two adults – the alpha male and the alpha female – and four wolves born last year.
“Our suspicion is there is still the two adults and now two remaining wolves from last year, and whatever number of new pups there are from this spring,” Michel said.