Highway Wilding is a collaborative research project focused on getting wildlife safely across highways. The project builds on over 15 years of world-renowned research demonstrating that wildlife crossing structures are effective at both reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions and ensuring that animals are able to move freely throughout their habitat. The construction of wildlife crossing structures has proven to be less expensive than the costs associated with a "business as usual" approach, including the costs of vehicle damage, human injury, and lost hunting revenues.
Build them and they will live. That is the simple message of Highway Wilding, a short documentary exploring highway-wildlife conflicts and the pioneering solutions that are preventing roadkill and reconnecting landscapes in Western Canada. Here in the Rocky Mountains we have a unique opportunity to maintain a fully functioning mountain ecosystem, but highways remain a significant barrier to ecosystem health and connectivity. Everything from grizzly bears and wolverines to ducks and salamanders need to cross roads safely to meet their life needs, and these critical connections are increasingly threatened by highway expansion. After seeing Highway Wilding, you will never look at highways the same way again.
Click here to access the press kit which includes images of wildlife crossing structures and animals using them, a backgrounder on Highway Wilding, quotes from the film and a downloadable film trailer and poster.
'Banff (National Park) is the most heavily visited park in North America. More than any National Park. More than Yellowstone, more than Great Smokey, more than Yosemite. 4 million visitors per year and virtually all of these visitors arrive on the Trans-Canada Highway. There are on average 17,000 vehicles a day that pass on this highway with peaks of up to 30,000 vehicles per day. That means one vehicle passing every three seconds. You can imagine how difficult it is for wildlife to cross this highway.' - Tony Clevenger - Road Ecologist and Lead Wolverine Researcher Banff, AB
'One of the big problems we've had collectively as biologists and human society over the last many decades is that we haven't looked at the landscape the way animals do'. - Karsten Heuer - President of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation initiative - Canmore, AB
'Animal vehicle collisions cost us 8 billion dollars a year and cause serious property damage and loss of human life'. - Josh Pollock- Rocky Mountain Wild, Denver, CO.
'When you look at the movements of grizzly bear 122 this summer he traveled over 1600 km and crossed the Trans-Canada Highway (using wildlife crossing structures) over 66 times. These crossing structures were part of his daily life'. - Jesse Whittington - Ecologist Banff National Park
'The biggest story about Highway 3 and our particular research project is it's the first time we've used an economic model on a single highway segment, and we have actually shown, that it's cost affective to mitigate at nine different sites along the highway, due to the number of wildlife vehicle collisions occurring at those sites. And that's fairly significant, because suddenly you're speaking a different language with transportation planners. You're not only saying it makes sense for the wildlife and the people, but it's even making economic sense. So why aren't we doing this?'. - Tracy Lee- Lead Researcher- Miistakis Institute of the Rockies
'If (wolverines), one of the wildest most elusive creatures on earth can adapt to these structures, I'm convinced now that any animal can'. - Tony Clevenger - Lead Wolverine Researcher and Road Ecologist.
'What we have here in the Rockies is one of the last best opportunities to maintain a fully functioning mountain ecosystem in the entire world. We have all the large mammal species, we have the grizzly bears, the wolverines, the wolves, the lynx, the cougars, the elk, the moose and in some places even the bison. And so we're not in an age of restoration. We're in an age of keeping what we already have. Of conserving the connectivity that all the science is showing us is so crucial. And we have the know-how. And we now have the proven track record. Right here in the Bow Valley. We've proven that these things can be done and they are successful and they can meet the needs of the animals. And if we don't do it then that really is a conscious decision on our part. We have no excuse for not doing it and then down the road saying, 'what happened to the wildlife?'. - Karsten Heuer - President of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation initiative.
About the Filmmaker
Leanne Allison is a filmmaker based in Canmore, Alberta. She has directed two award- winning documentaries with the National Film Board of Canada: Being Caribou (2004) and Finding Farley (2009). Both films are based on long epic personal journeys through remote wilderness areas in Canada. Each journey shapes the next, including her first foray into the world of interactive storytelling through Bear 71. This recent creation premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and recently won the FWA site of the Year Award. All of Leanne's projects explore themes of threatened wildlife and our connection to nature in the modern age.
What you can do to help spread the story
We are committed to making the Highway Wilding documentary freely available for non-commercial education purposes.
We would like to thank the following funders for their generous support of Highway Wilding - the Documentary:
Patagonia Environmental Grants Fund
The Government of Alberta and the Alberta Sports, Recreation, Parks & Wildlife Foundation
The Community Grants Program at The Calgary Foundation
The Edmonton Community Foundation
TD Friends of the Environment Foundation
The Woodcock Foundation
Download Movie Poster
Highway Wilding sets out to convince us that roads as we know them are a serious problem and make a case for doing something smarter, and achieves both beyond all doubt. Better yet, it deepens into the long-distance lives of animals and evokes that powerful sense of nature as a world operating outside of our daily understandings. Everyone will have their own moment where the film crosses over from interesting to urgent; for me, it was the story of a transplanted lynx that walked over 1500 kilometres home from America. Beautiful." - J.B. Mackinnon - author of 'The 100-Mile Diet' and 'The Once and Future World' (2013)