The Bow Valley protected areas are public lands designated under the Provincial Parks Act to be maintained in a natural state for use by the public for recreation, education or other specified purposes.
They include Bow Valley Wildland Park, Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park and Bow Valley Provincial Park.
Within these protected areas, wildlife corridors and habitat patches have been designated to preserve functional wildlife habitat, to allow daily and seasonal wildlife movement to avoid genetically isolated wildlife populations and to reduce human-wildlife conflicts.
Maintaining the integrity and function of environmentally sensitive areas is a key consideration when managing the Canmore trail network. Recreational trails must follow the Wildlife Corridor and Habitat Patch Guidelines for the Bow Valley (hyperlink report), these include:
- Trails that are located and travel length-wise within the interior of a wildlife corridor should be relocated either outside of the wildlife corridor or to the edge of the wildlife corridor. Generally, trails that travel the length of a wildlife corridor are not recommended.
- Spur trails off designated trails should be removed.
- Implement seasonal and temporal trail closures as necessary for public safety reasons or when wildlife are most sensitive to human disturbance (g., early spring when bears are emerging from their dens and/or fall rut for ungulates).
- Users should be required to remain on designated trails.
- Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times, unless within a designated off-leash area.
- Amenities such as benches, tables, garbage receptacles and lights should not permitted.
- Encourage safe practices to reduce wildlife-human encounters.
- Install signs on trails that bisect wildlife corridors to outline the purpose and importance of wildlife corridors and any restrictions that may apply.
The Canmore region is a valuable natural resource that requires careful management. With increasing recreational use, a consistent program of ongoing care that respects the environment is the key to achieving long term sustainability.
Human use continues to increase in the Bow Valley; hence, wildlife and people are increasingly competing for a finite amount of space. This valley is home to several towns, while at the same time functions as a major movement corridor for many wildlife species, including grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, bobcat, lynx, cougars, deer and elk.
Human Wildlife Interactions
Every year numerous interactions between people and wildlife occur. Although most interactions are benign to both people and wildlife, some can become a serious public safety threat resulting in public injury, property damage and/or dead or relocated wildlife.