Parks Canada warning tourists to stay back from wildlife
Taline McPhedran, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, July 2, 2017 3:34PM EDT
As many Canadians spend this long weekend visiting national parks, Parks Canada is reminding people to stay away from animals.
Especially since videos and pictures of people standing unbelievably close to wild animals are becoming more common.
In late June, a wildlife photographer captured a tourist walking up to a bear behind a bush in Banff National Park to take a close-up picture.
“I was thinking, ‘Whoa! I better tape this,’” said Ray Blanchard. “I was waiting for the bear to come out of the bush.”
Blanchard said what he captured wasn’t even the most surprising: the tourist then leaned over the bush to get right in the face of the bear.
“The bear was very docile, really unbelievably docile for the situation,” said Blanchard.
Similarly, last year near Lake Louise video captured a group of tourists pressed against a wire fence, watching a grizzly bear eat. The video also shows a hand reaching through the fence towards the bear.
Bill Hunt, the Parks Canada Resource Conservation Manager, says standing close to wildlife such as bears is not only a risk for the person but also for the animal.
He says in these cases, the bears tolerated the behaviour of the humans, but that’s not always the case.
“If the bear was defending a carcass, if that was a female with cubs, if that was a different day of the week when something else was bothering that bear, it may be completely intolerant,” Hunt said.
Parks Canada recommends that tourists stay at least 100 metres, or 10 bus lengths, from bears, wolves and cougars. It also recommend staying 30 metres, or 3 bus lengths, from elk, deer and mountain goats.
Officials also warn that food for people and garbage should be off limits to animals. Banff National Park wardens recently captured two black bears after one repeatedly went after food left in a concession area.
It is illegal to feed, entice or disturb wildlife in a National Park and violators could face fines up to $25,000.
With a report from CTV News’ Alberta Bureau Chief Janet Dirks