The Town of Banff is asking property owners to use the Victoria Day Long Weekend to make sure their yards and buildings are not safe havens for wildlife, so they are safe for people and pets, and will keep our carnivore neighbours alive.
While the May long weekend kicks off summer and is a traditional time for Banffites to start yardwork and FireSmart their properties for wildfire season, it’s also the best time of year to board up access to open spaces under decks to prevent carnivores from establishing residence in your residence. Crawl spaces under sheds, patios or stairs are attractive hiding or denning places for cougars, foxes, bears and coyotes.
Pets, children and adults are not safe around a carnivore that could be protecting its hiding space or waiting for a meal. Aggressive encounters could result in relocating the carnivore away from its home territory, or worse, having to put down the animal. Board up spaces to keep wildlife alive.
The May long weekend also marks the restart of a wildlife awareness campaign that was paused in 2020 due to the global pandemic redirecting resources to COVID safety measures.
The renewed wildlife protection campaign builds on previous efforts to make residents string Christmas lights at least three metres off the ground to avoid entangling elk and deer antlers, and during Halloween reminding people to not leave pumpkins outside where they attract animals.
The awareness campaign asks residents to rethink everyday behaviours that could attract large animals like bears, coyotes, wolves and cougars into the town site where they could endanger people and their pets, which can be deadly for the wildlife.
The awareness campaign will focus on different topics through the year, including information about birdfeeders, BBQs, fruit trees, and dogs and how these simple things can be dangerous to wildlife if humans don’t take extra care. The goal is to enhance people’s understanding that we are responsible for the stewardship of these animals in their home territory.
This public education program was spawned by a task force working to improve human-wildlife coexistence in the Bow Valley. Organizations involved in the task force include the towns of Banff and Canmore, Banff National Park, Alberta Environment and Parks, and advisors from the Wildsmart Community Program, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.
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