"... certainly more must be done". You make a good point, Doe07, and in reading that information recently (or maybe it was one of the links to either the Banff or Canmore newspapers; also, photographer John Marriott has a facebook page and a blog with lots of stories about animals in Banff National Park), I hadn't realized that cattle guards (or Texas gates, as some call them) are problematic, in that predators can cross them and access the highway where they then get killed. However, given the recent budget-chopping to the Parks Canada funding and the many staff positions that have been eliminated - and the muzzle that has been imposed on the remaining employees who face losing their jobs if they criticize the cuts or the government - I am not very hopeful that much will be done.
The situation with railway mortality is not just an issue with CP Rail (whose line goes through Banff and Yoho National Parks); it's a huge issue here in Jasper National Park with the CN main line, and CN has not been nearly as pro-active as CP about repairing hopper cars so that grain doesn't spill on the tracks and attract animals. I know a lot of railway employees, and it breaks their hearts to hit an animal. The Jasper Environmental Agency has been relentless in working on this issue and trying to pressure CN and Parks Canada to remedy this, but every time I cross the tracks to go hiking, there is always grain there.
I don't know that we residents go about our lives without fear ... certainly any of us who are active on the trails has stories about wildlife encounters, mostly benign - but not always. For instance, this week's Jasper newspaper has a harrowing story - with a happy ending, thankfully - of yet another attempt by a local wolf pack that has been preying on dogs since last winter -
These trails are literally on the doorstep of many residents here, and many of us use them on a daily basis, walking, running, biking etc. In fact, most of my bear encounters have been on one of those trails, within 1/4 kilometre of the trailhead and my house.
However, it helps to keep the risk in perspective, and knowing more about the critters and their behaviour can go a long way to minimizing the risk, and also knowing how to react when you meet animals on the trail (or even in town).
Statistically speaking though, the most dangerous animals in the parks are not bears or any of the predators - it is elk (also known as wapiti. Some Europeans call "moose" elk, but moose are not seen nearly as often as elk/wapiti). There are more aggressive encounters with them than any other type of animal, and people have been seriously injured (although this is very rare, as are aggressive encounters with predators). Part of the problem is that many visitors don't think of them as wild animals - they see them grazing and think of them almost like farm animals, and then they approach too closely. This time of year is problematic with the elk cows and their newborn calves, and in September/October, during the rut (mating season), the bulls can also be extremely dangerous. (I have seen them charge at cars that got too close.) The townsite is attractive to the elk because most of the predator species avoid it.
I have a friend who came upon a cow and newborn calf on one of the trails near town, out in the open with no trees or rocks to shelter behind, and says she would be dead had she not sprayed the cow with pepper spray (she got it square on the nose at less than ten feet away as it was bearing down on her). I have been chased twice by elk and it is a very scary experience, but I didn't have to resort to spraying either of them.
We had a front-row seat last week, watching wardens "haze" and chase a cow and her calf out of town. The elk were on our neighbours' lawn, and the cow was charging at anyone who walked by. The wardens use a stick, with streamers hanging from the top, that they shake at the elk (it makes the wardens look bigger, and I guess the motion of the streamers spooks the elk) - at first, there was just one warden, and the cow kept charging at him and pounding her hooves on the ground, coming to within a couple of feet of him (he had to keep ducking behind a tree). Two more wardens came, and she tried a few more charges at them, but then wisely decided that she and her little one should skedaddle. They "escorted" her out of town. (Quite something to see three guys running after elk with streamers LOL but those guys are my heroes!!)