In DepthConservation Biology

Why are grizzlies dying on Canada's railway tracks?

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Science  10 Feb 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6325, pp. 561
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6325.561

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Summary

In Banff National Park in Canada, grizzlies have used the railroad tracks since the park was created in 1885, gorging on the buffaloberries that thrive along the right-of-way and the occasional carcass of an elk hit by a train. Nearly 2 decades ago, the behavior turned risky, as trains began striking and killing the bears. At least 17 grizzlies have died since 2000—a major hit to the local population of about 60. In a brace of recent or forthcoming studies, scientists identify culprits ranging from blind curves to spilled grain. They also propose steps for making the tracks safer, including systems to warn of approaching trains, trails to provide escape routes, clearing vegetation around the tracks, and fencing around hot spots.

  • * in Banff National Park, in Canada