4 Wildlife Safety Tips for Your Next Trip to Canmore and Kananaskis
- Tourism Canmore Kananaskis - September 16, 2020
Of all the natural wonders Alberta has to offer, the majestic, rugged beauty of Canmore and Kananaskis is in a league of its own. Along with the dramatic Canadian Rockies and iconic Bow and Kananaskis river views, some lucky visitors also get to spot the region’s abundant wildlife.
Wildlife sightings are a fairly regular highlight of outdoor adventures in Canmore and Kananaskis—it’s extremely important to know what to do when you hit the wilderness jackpot and spot a bear or other wildlife during your outing. Keep these expert safety tips in mind to ensure both you and the animal will continue on your way with a skip in your step.
Are you the type of traveller who enjoys venturing off the beaten path? The awe-inspiring views of remote mountain ranges make for incredible moments, but you need to be aware of your surroundings when you’re out in nature’s playground so you don’t stumble upon a bear (trust us, although they’re big, it happens!).
Stick to official trails, and try not to explore solo if possible. Make noise when you’re out on hiking trails to avoid startling wildlife, and respect any warnings and closure notices you might see. We promise park officials aren’t trying to cramp your style—they just want you to explore where it’s safe to do so. Clapping, shouting and singing work well to alert wildlife of your presence, so practice your favourite tune in the shower before heading out.
Like the Scout motto says, be prepared when you visit Canmore and Kananaskis. Alberta Parks is a good resource to help you plan your time in the great outdoors. You can also give the Travel Alberta Canmore Information Centre a call at (403) 678-5277.
Grizzly bears, black bears, cougars, elk, wolves and coyotes are some of the many species that call Canmore and Kananaskis home. As a guest in their home, treat these animals with respect. Use our designated bear-proof garbage bins, keep your pets on a leash and never leave food around outside or offer it to animals. It’s illegal to feed wildlife, including ground squirrels, so save that trail mix for yourself!
Another simple way to show wildlife respect is by giving animals their distance. We know, seeing wildlife is exciting! Although it can be tempting to approach wild animals for a once-in-a-lifetime photo, no amount of Instagram likes is worth putting you or them in danger. Instead, savour the moment and take in every little detail to share with your friends later around the campfire.
Elk and bear sightings are common in Canmore and Kananaskis. A good rule of thumb is to keep 100 ft between you and an elk. This is approximately the equivalent of three buses. You’ll want even more distance between you and a bear. Experts recommend standing at least 330 ft away from a bear, the equivalent of 10 buses.
Finding yourself in close proximity to an animal can be intimidating, but stay calm, and never run away from wildlife. Now is not the time to show off your sprinting skills! If you see an animal before it notices you, quietly go back the way you came from. If the animal has seen you, talk calmly while backing away slowly.
If you do spot a bear, cougar, wolf or other wildlife in Canmore and Kananaskis, be a pal and let us know by reporting it to (403) 591-7755.
Bear spray is not only helpful for bear encounters, but also for run-ins with other types of wildlife. It’s a useful form of protection from cougars, wolves and elk, but should always be a last resort. Be sure to pick some up once you arrive in Canmore and Kananaskis. You can find it at outdoor stores like Wapiti Sports & Outfitters in Canmore or pick some up at our Visitor Centre.
Canmore and Kananaskis offer some of the most scenic drives in Alberta, and it’s common to see an animal beside the road. One of the most important things to remember about driving in the Canadian Rockies is to not stop your vehicle if you’re fortunate enough to spot an animal (or a whole herd of bighorn sheep—we kid you not, this happens, too!).
Instead, slow down while driving and have your co-pilot snap a quick picture. This is to ensure both your safety and the animals’.
Here in Canmore and Kananaskis, we’re proud to coexist with wildlife, and we strive to do so in a positive way. Following these best practices for wildlife safety will help ensure your wildlife encounters are memories to treasure long after your adventure is over.
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