Preparing for WildLife

We love our wild animals. So much effort and time is put in to keep them wild, free and healthy.  Millions of people visit the area each year to see a the animals that call this beautiful place home.

As a visitor to the area, your visit will make an impact but it is up to you whether it is a positive or negative impact.

Its all up to you, it really is. Great behavior from you will help this place thrive!

Keeping Animals Wild

A wild animal is an animal that lives and thrives without any human dependence. We want them to live life un-interrupted and this is something that we take VERY seriously. So many programs and jobs are in place to protect the animals.

Each year there are visitors who disturb, approach and feed animals. Bears, wolves and elk have had to be shot because they became aggressive and lost their fear of humans. Many visitors end up with injuries or in court facing huge fines. Please don’t be that guy!

Guaranteed and Safe Ways to See Animals

Want to get up close with the cutest Wolfdogs? Visit Yamnuska WolfDog Sanctuary. Book your tour now.

Meet Boo the Grizzly Bear at Kicking Horse Resort. Book now

Rules and Best Behavior 

Whether you are exploring the park by foot, bike or vehicle, approaching wildlife causes them to lose their natural fear of people. Help keep them wild by maintaining a minimum distance of:

  • 30 metres for deer, elk, moose and bighorn sheep
  • 100 metres for cougars, bears, coyotes and wolves

Do not surround, crowd or follow any wildlife. If you choose to take a photo, take it from a distance by using the zoom function on your camera.

Violators will be charged, be required to appear in court, and could pay fines up to $25 000 – this happens every year.

Slow down, obey speed limits. When driving, obey all speed limits. Wildlife are present day and night.

If you see wildlife roadside always slow down. If you do stop (not recommended for your and the wildlife’s safety):

  • be aware of the wildlife and traffic around you.
  • pull over only when it is safe to do so.
  • use your hazard lights to alert other drivers.
  • stay in your vehicle.
  • watch for a few moments, take a quick photo, and move on.

If a traffic jam develops, move on. It is unsafe for people and wildlife.

Have you ever heard of the term “A fed bear is a dead bear”?

Do not feed any wildlife. Wildlife need to find their own natural food sources, not yours. Feeding wildlife causes them to become food conditioned and they may become increasingly aggressive.

Feeding may also:

  • attract wildlife to roadside areas where they can be injured or killed by vehicles.
  • lead to seeking out and eating garbage. Animals eat almost anything that has a scent.
  • cause small animals such as squirrels to become very aggressive and bite.
  • affect your health. Direct contact with wildlife may pose threats to human health such as injury or disease.

It is illegal to feed, entice, or disturb any wildlife in a national park.

Use the wildlife proof bins to dispose of all unwanted food and garbage; not the ground or a fire pit.

Wildlife will feed on garbage: littering means feeding wildlife. Ensure all garbage and recycling are disposed in wildlife proof garbage bins immediately. Human food kills wildlife. Do not burn unwanted food and garbage. Put it in the wildlife proof garbage bins.

If you see garbage or recycling left outside within the Town of Banff, call Bylaw Services at 403-762-1218 (8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week). After hours, call Parks Canada Banff Dispatch at 403-762-1470.

For areas outside of the Town of Banff call Parks Canada Banff Dispatch at 403-762-1470.

Never leave food or scented items unattended. A clean campsite and picnic site do not have anything that will attract wildlife (food, garbage, food-related or scented items). Never leave these items unattended for any length of time (which includes when you are in your tent and RV):

  • coolers – full or empty
  • food – wrapped, unwrapped, or in containers
  • garbage/wrappers
  • dishes/pots/cutlery – clean or dirty
  • empty beverage containers
  • pet food/bowls – full or empty
  • bottles/cans – open or unopened
  • barbecues – clean or dirty
  • any other items used for food preparation or that have a smell or scent
  • scented products – such as shampoo, toothpaste, candles, citronella, dish soap, sunscreen, lip balm, dish towels

Hiking Trail Conditions

From time to time trails need to be closed or group sizes are enforced. Sometimes this is because of wildlife in the area who may be dening, raising young, feeding or behaving aggressively. Please obey the signs and choose another trail. There are so many places to explore in this beautiful area. Leave the animals in peace.

  • ensure it is on a leash and under control at all times.
  • pick up and dispose of your dog’s waste in a garbage bin.
  • check trail conditions as dogs are not permitted on some trails.
  • avoid trails that have seasonal trail restrictions and closures, as dogs are not permitted.
  • consider leaving your dog at home if you plan to camp, hike or go into the backcountry.
  • ensure your dog’s safety; select suitable activities and terrain that align with your and your dog’s abilities.
  • ensure you and your dog are prepared for extreme weather conditions (very cold temperatures, exposure, etc.) as the weather is very unpredictable in the mountains.