Parks Canada | Parcs Canada
With the May long weekend on the horizon and plenty of things to see and do in Banff, Kootenay and Yoho national parks, Parks Canada is reminding drivers to please exercise caution and drive with vigilance on mountain park roads at a time of year when wildlife face considerable risks searching for food and mates in close proximity to roads.
Last year 12 bears were killed by vehicles on highways in Banff, Kootenay and Yoho national parks, with most collisions occurring at unfenced sections of road.
“It’s a great time of year to experience the mountain parks with campgrounds open and lots of hiking possibilities, though at the same time we ask that visitors please drive with caution and brush up on the their bear awareness skills and knowledge,” said Brianna Burley, a Parks Canada Human-Wildlife Conflict Specialist based in Lake Louise. “Our dedicated staff work hard to minimize collisions with wildlife, but we cannot act alone – we really need the public’s help.”
Parks Canada hopes that increased driver vigilance will make roads safer for wildlife and people. “We ask that visitors please slow down, observe speed limits and be extra vigilant on the roads at dawn and dusk when animals are most active,” added Burley. “Not only can following the speed
limit prolong an animal’s life by many years, it can also contribute to human safety and has the potential to save lives.”
Parks Canada is also reminding visitors that feeding or harassing wildlife is against the law. Feeding wildlife can lead to habituation, causing animals to lose their wariness of humans and increasing the risk of accidents. In 2012, Parks Canada responded to several reports of visitors feeding wildlife in the mountain parks, including an incident in Kootenay National Park where a wolf was approached and fed rice cakes.
Parks Canada employs a number of on-the-ground management actions to help reduce roadside wildlife collisions and habituation, including the use of Bear Guardians and signage to alert visitors to the presence of wildlife on roads. Bear Guardians interact with visitors on park roads to prevent,
monitor and manage bear jams. Bear Guardians work closely with resource conservation personnel, who are trained to work directly with bears to minimize the probability of bear/human conflicts and keep bears away from roads, garbage and other risks.
Parks Canada strongly encourages the public to report wildlife sightings and suspicious behaviour, such as wildlife feeding or hazardous driving by calling 1-888-WARDENS.