The guardians of our national parks system are pointing to a $1,000 fine for tourists who fed a bear as reason to stop feeding the animals – but is it truly enough?
CTV News reported on the announcement this week as Parks Canada released video and still photos of a pair of visitors who clearly contravened regulations by feeding a bear on the side of highway 93 in Banff National Park. As a result of the footage, charges were levied – including a $1,000 fine.
For years, however, Parks Canada – as well as other parks organizations and non-profits like The Fur-Bearers – have told residents and tourists to not feed wildlife. The activity continues – and could even be on the rise. Signs, fines and basic messaging aren’t doing the job – is it time to step up the game?
We know the consequences when people feed wildlife, particularly in high traffic areas, such as the scenic highways through Banff. A fed bear is a dead bear – and this remains true regardless of non-lethal mitigation efforts. What if the parks programs began using trail cams – or similar technology – to catch the perpetrators when no one is looking? What if the fine was increased to $10,000 or even $25,000, rather than the relatively low fines in place now?
We don’t know what the answer is with certainty, but we do know that we all need to play a role in stopping this irresponsible behaviour that creates such lethal hazards for our wild neighbours.
Photo by Parks Canada
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