Thousands of tourists make their way through Jasper National Park every year, a lot of the time for wildlife viewing. Each of them hopes to have a once in a lifetime opportunity to view some of Canada’s most precious wildlife species. The park is the home to many large mammals including elk, deer, moose, caribou, black bear, grizzly bear and wolves. Although many of these animals can even be viewed on the sides of the roads and elk, often in the town or nearby outskirts, tourists must remember these are wild animals. Each of us who visits the park will drive through the amazing views of the Icefield parkways or the calming natural environment as you drive to Maligne lake, but we hope to educate on some unwritten wildlife viewing etiquette to keep the animals and tourists both safe.
Keep your distance
Do not approach any of these animals. Keep your distance and appreciate their vast size. In doing so, the animals will continue to thrive in the park for us to view for years to come. By approaching too close, especially during mating season or when babies are present, can lead to an increasingly frustrated animal who may lash out purely out of defence. Take your pictures from a good and safe distance. In addition, take cues from the animal; if they are huffing or stomping or growling in your direction that probably means you are way too close..
Do not feed the animals
Although elk, for example, can often be seen close to town, this does not mean they are friendly and/or domestic. Please do not feed the animals for several reasons. Firstly, feeding any animal food that their body is not suited for can lead to a variety of health problems for that animal including diabetes or impaction. Secondly, feeding a wild animal can quickly make them depend on humans for food. As a result, they can become problematic by getting into residential or commercial garbages, attacking other animals that normally inhabit those areas, and become aggressive as they become more dependent on food provided by humans.
You will find as you drive through various sections of the park that other vehicles have pulled over to view an animal they have spotted. Don’t hesitate to join them but also do so safely. Pull to the side of the road and turn on your hazards to let others know your intentions.
Drive carefully looking for nearby wildlife that could walk or run onto the road. The park does have signs to acknowledge commonly inhabited locations along the main roads and slower speed limits in these areas. Please respect these limits and keep yourself and the wildlife out of danger.
Respect other wildlife viewers
As you adventure into the amazing features of Jasper National Park, please respect others as they do the same to you. Take your pictures and enjoy some of Canada’s most vast mammals but allow the tourist next to you to do the same.
Do your research
Ask at the visitor centre or ask fellow wildlife viewers for locations that are best for viewing. Excited tourists and even locals are usually happy to share any hidden gems they have found on their adventures.
And last but not least, have fun!!