As was the case for other large carnivores in the lower 48 United States, by the 1960s grizzly bears were nearly extinct. This species had dropped to less than 2 percent of its former range south of Canada and occurred in six small, discrete populations, totaling 800-1,000 individuals.
The lynx is one of the most at-risk carnivores in the United States. South of the US-Canada border, this elusive species’ population may be as low as a few hundred individuals. In 2000, the federal government acted by listing it as threatened in portions of the US, under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Steps to recover lynx have included reintroduction.
It all began with roadkill. Banff, the crown jewel of the Canadian national parks, is a paradox. Big, primeval wildness and all it embodies — peaks, waterfalls, and glaciers — surround the townsite, the antithesis of wildness with its bustling boutiques and hotels. Highway 1, one of the busiest Canadian roadways, slices through the park via the Bow Valley. It vectors millions of people and their vehicles through this iconic landscape, creating a lethal corridor for wildlife.
Audacious as such dispersals may seem, these peripatetic carnivores can’t help making them. This behavior is imprinted in their DNA, in the shape of their bodies, and in how their minds work. Moreover, they do it with casual grace, as if such heroic dispersals amounted to just another day in their lives.