Human-wildlife coexistence has been a hot topic in the Bow Valley. Following a summer where Canmore experienced more frequent encounters between humans and wildlife, Canmore Mayor John Borrowman, Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen, and I brought representatives together from area municipalities, Parks Canada, and the Government of Alberta to form a Roundtable on Human Wildlife Coexistence. The group has met three times since their inception and has adopted a Terms of Reference to guide their efforts.

The study area extends from the Town of Banff to Seebe west to east, and between the height of land across the Bow Valley. It encompasses all federal, provincial and municipal lands within this area.

The vision of this initiative is:

The Wildlife in the Bow Valley are able to effectively utilize their natural habitat with minimal human disturbance while avoiding developed areas such as town sites and campgrounds. Human wildlife conflict management is coordinated and integrated among the responsible agencies and the public understands their decisions and actions.

A key component of the work to identify solutions is the formation of a technical working group of stakeholders and subject matter experts comprised of both governmental and non-governmental agencies. Their first meeting was Nov. 21, 2017 and they will be meeting bi-weekly throughout the winter to:

  • identify trends and human-wildlife conflict mitigation programs
  • make recommendations on reducing the frequency of human-wildlife conflict
  • suggest improvements to how each agency responds to incidents
  • identify ways to change public behaviour through increased awareness and transparency

Regular progress updates will be provided. To stay informed, follow me on Facebook or Twitter, and watch for official progress reports at upcoming Town of Canmore and Town of Banff council meetings.

With collaboration among our partners and stakeholders, we will work together to reduce food sources close to areas where there is high human use, implement and enforce temporary area closures when wildlife is present, work together to address issues when wildlife crosses jurisdictional boundaries, increase effectiveness of public education, and designate and enforce areas where wildlife habitat is the primary land use.

The Roundtable on Human Wildlife Coexistence met most recently on Nov 28th to receive an update from the Technical Working Group and to discuss stakeholder engagement and communication strategies. While engagement opportunities have not yet been defined, the Roundtable confirmed their intent to reach out to and engage with all relevant and interested stakeholders including recreational groups, private landowners, First Nations representatives and the general public.

Further public engagement is anticipated to take place in the spring once the technical working group has finalized their report.

For more information on deliverables and the members of the Roundtable and technical working group, visit https://canmore.ca/residents/stewardship-of-the-environment/managing-human-wildlife-conflict


Cam Westhead

MLA for Banff-Cochrane