Parks Canada targets photographers using VHF receivers

The radio collars used by scientists to track multiple species in and around Banff National Park may also be used by photographers looking to get up close to the animals. And that’s why Parks Canada has banned the use of telemetry receivers within their boundaries.

"We've had a few incidents where we've suspected that people, presumably after photos, have been using scanners within their vehicles to locate wildlife," Parks Canada spokesperson Bill Hunt told the CBC. "We just wanted to put this in place to make sure that people understand that that's considered harassing wildlife and is no longer lawful in those parks."

The VHF (very high frequency) receivers are an older technology, but one still used by many academics and government agencies. It is believed that some photographers may be using such receivers to track down animals. While wildlife photography is completely legal – and when done ethically, beneficial to the parks and the animals – inappropriate use of the VHF receiver could get a photographer close enough to a hunting wolf or hiding prey to cause a disruption in their daily habits. This would be considered illegal (harassment of wildlife), but to date has been difficult to enforce.

"Prior to this restricted activity order, the only charge that was available to our enforcement officers would have been harassing wildlife, which is a very serious offence … but to do that, you'd have to prove the connection to the wildlife," Hunt said. "With this restricted activity order in place, we'd only have to show that they had the telemetry device there for the purpose of pursuing wildlife."

The Fur-Bearers are glad to see Parks Canada continuing to evolve their policies to keep the animals of our national parks safe from visitors. Now they simply need the support of government to ensure enforcement is always possible.

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