Banff National Park is an amazing place. More than the trees, mountains and fresh, clear water, it is the home to abundant wildlife – bears, moose, elk and other critters – that inspire people’s imaginations and attract the park’s many visitors.
When you come into the park, you’re entering the animals’ home. If you’re fortunate enough to spot wildlife, there are some simple things you can do to make sure you have a memory you’ll cherish while ensuring the animal has been shown the respect and consideration it deserves.
First, realize you’re not in your familiar city or town, and the rules are different. Banff has many attractive urban features, but move beyond the streets and groomed paths and you quickly discover this is not a city park. You need to develop an awareness of your surroundings, and follow the rules on best practices for your own safety, as well as the animals’.
Second, give wildlife its space. Keep your distance. If you get too close, you can provoke a territorial response. So, use that telephoto lens from the safety of your vehicle if you see a bear. Keep your vehicle moving if possible, to avoid delaying traffic, and if you must pull over, do so only where you can do so safely: for you, and for everyone else around you. Don’t approach wildlife or attempt to feed them. They may become defensive, or just as bad, if the animal becomes acclimated to human contact, it’s likely to become a danger of a different kind.
Third, if you’re camping or out for the day in the back country, dispose of your food waste properly so wildlife is not attracted to it. Use designated receptacles or pack your waste out with you. Our food isn’t good for them, and it makes them dependent upon us instead of keeping the animals’ focus on its natural behavior.
Ideally, we all visit Banff to enjoy a level of natural surrounding we don’t normally have in our lives. If you are looking to learn more about animals and wildlife you can always join a private wildlife tour with an interpretive guide. Or if bears are your thing, visit the Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Refuge to visit Boo the orphaned Grizzly Bear.
By observing and enjoying the park’s wonders – and not disturbing its natural balance – we ensure an important piece of our world remains as untouched as possible and available to us in coming years.
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