Research provides transportation agencies with evidence-based data to guide the planning and design of crossing structures that effectively link critical habitats and populations. To date, research has focused on a range of mammal species. However, for rare-occurring, wide-ranging species such as wolverines (Gulo gulo), collecting the required information can be challenging. Highway crossing structures have been recommended as a conservation strategy for wolverines in the northern U.S. Rocky Mountains. However, there is virtually no information describing wolverine response to crossing mitigation. I describe 15 years of continuous year-round monitoring (1996–2012) of wolverine response to highway mitigation in Banff National Park, Alberta. Crossing structures were monitored using track pads and cameras. Wolverines were detected using crossing structures 10 times. Nine crossings occurred at wildlife underpasses and one at a wildlife overpass. The first detected passage occurred in 2005. Three crossings were recorded during the same crossing check in 2010 and 2011, suggesting use by the same individual of the structures. Few conclusions can be drawn regarding the attributes of crossing structures that facilitate passage of wolverines. Given the scarcity of crossing structures within wolverine range, it will be difficult to collect sufficient information in the short term for this rare and elusive species. Given the proposal to list wolverines under the Endangered Species Act, transportation departments and land managers should begin proactively identifying critical habitat linkages across highways in wolverine range and opportunities for highway mitigation in the short and long term.
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Vol. 87 • No. 3