Project designed to spare park animals from becoming road kill

| 8/14/2002

If all goes well, wildlife and vehicles will be much safer for the next three months along Highway 93 west of Calgary, Alberta.

Inside two trailers sitting along the highway, technology is being used to try to keep national park wildlife from becoming road kill. The trailers, plus two infrared cameras mounted on 30-foot towers, are part of a test project that began earlier this month in a one-mile stretch of the heavily traveled Kootenay Parkway.

Using technology developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, an infrared camera capable of detecting temperature differences of .018 degree Fahrenheit is mounted at either end of the test area.

Data feeds from both cameras are analyzed with computer recognition software. When an animal is detected in brush near the highway, six signs are activated with flashing lights to warn drivers to keep on the lookout for wildlife and to slow to about 40 mph (60 kilometers an hour).

Test-zone alerts will remain in place through October. At that time, the system reportedly will be moved to another three-month test site near Skookumchuck, British Columbia, north of Kimberley. The Edmonton, Alberta-based company that owns the rights to the technology reportedly also plans to expand its applications into other parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan and the United States.