If you’ll be driving through Banff this winter, expect to see more wildlife on the highway than usual.
Heavy snowfall at Banff National Park has covered barriers that usually keep animals of the Trans-Canada Highway, allowing wildlife to wander onto the dangerous, snowy road.
These barriers, called cattle grids or Texas grates, are simply large cavities in the ground covered with a grid of metal bars—not unlike sewer grates. If an animal tries to walk over one of these grids, its legs are likely to fall through the gaps between the bars, forcing it to retreat.
After heavy snowfall, though, these gaps are filled in, and can be easily crossed.
As a result, Parks Canada is asking drivers in the Banff region to keep an eye out for wildlife on the Trans-Canada Highway. On- and off-ramps are said to be particularly dangerous spots for wild animals.
Last week, Parks Canada found a dead elk on the Trans-Canada Highway near the southern end of Banff National Park, although the cause of death in unclear, a spokesperson told the Calgary Herald.
Parks Canada has begun to remove the snow.
For any history buffs out there, it’s worth noting that cattle grids have been around for almost a century: they were patented in the United States all the way back in 1915.