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Waterton Lakes National Park

How to safely enjoy wildlife and help protect it

Parks Canada helps protect uniquely Canadian landscapes and the ecosystems that animals depend on for their survival. When our actions reduce an animal’s wildness, the natural character of our national parks diminishes.

Whether you plan to drive the roads, hike the trails, or relax in town, take time to learn the important precautions wild areas demand. Your responsible behaviour contributes to the survival of wildlife - and your own safety!

The chance of seeing wildlife in the wild is one of the most exciting things about the mountain national parks. However, it is important to treat wild animals with the respect they deserve. Approaching them too closely threatens their survival.

Once animals become accustomed to being around people, they are in danger of losing that very thing that makes them special - their wildness.

By taking basic safety precautions for carnivores such as wolves, cougars and coyotes, we can minimize the risks to human safety and ensure the carnivores in Waterton Lakes National Park remain wild.

Preventing conflicts

  • You can prevent carnivores from becoming conditioned to human food. Store your food, garbage, and dog food securely so that carnivores such as wolves, cougars, or coyotes cannot gain access to it.
  • Never approach, entice, or feed wildlife.
  • Keep your dog on a leash. Don't leave dogs unattended outside. Dogs can attract carnivores and may be attacked.
  • Carefully supervise small children when they are playing outdoors.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings year-round.

Viewing carnivores

  • Watching a wolf or cougar can be a once-in-a lifetime experience. But it needs to be done from a safe distance - stay at least 100 metres (or 10 bus lengths) away.
  • If driving, pull safely onto the shoulder of the road, and stay in your vehicle.
  • Never entice an animal to come closer.
  • Use binoculars or a telephoto lens for a "close-up" look.

If you are approached by a wolf / coyote/ cougar

  • If you are approached by a "fearless" carnivore, the best thing to do is act aggressively (stomp your feet, yell, throw something, use pepper spray). The animal may be testing to see if you are possible prey - make it clear that you (and your dog) are not.
  • Pick up small children immediately. Stand your ground, but never jump towards the animal. Do not run.
  • By acting aggressively, you reduce the risk to yourself and other people, and help prevent the animal from becoming "habituated" to human presence.

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