Fact Check

Elk on Canadian Highway in Banff

Photograph shows elk traversing a wildlife overpass in Banff, Alberta.

Published March 19, 2007


Claim:   Photograph shows elk traversing a specially-constructed wildlife overpass in Banff, Alberta.

Status:   Multiple — see below.

Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, March, 2007]

If You Build It They Will Come

This is the actual turnoff from Banff to the # 1 highway to Calgary.

Great picture isn't it? They had to build the animals (especially the elk) their own crossing because that was where the natural crossing was and after the highway was built there were far too many accidents. I understand it didn't take the animals long to learn that this was their "road."

Click to enlarge

Origins:   The Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) is the world's longest national highway, running 4,860 miles (7,821 km) across Canada from Victoria,

British Columbia, on the Pacific coast to St. John's, Newfoundland, on the Atlantic. The Trans-Canada Highway linked several provincial highways, many of which were 4-lane divided roads, but some portions of the route (particularly where it traversed wilderness or agricultural land) the roadways were a single lane in each direction.

In order to provide a lesser disruption to wildlife and avoid collisions between vehicles and large mammals in wildnerness areas, Parks Canada has undertaken projects in areas such as Banff, Alberta, to "twin" (i.e., expand from two to four lanes) some portions of the TCH, install "ungulate-proof" fences along both sides of the roadway, and create overpasses/underpasses in designated areas for the safe passage of wildlife. (Photographs of some of these wildlife passes may be viewed on the Parks Canada web site.)

The image displayed above purports to show elk crossing one such wildlife overpass in Banff. However, readers familiar with the area have pointed out that the structure pictured is not a wildlife overpass, but rather a bridge for the Canadian Pacific railroad track.

Last updated:   19 March 2007

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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