For most visitors, seeing wildlife is a highlight of the trip. To help ensure safe wildlife viewing, Jasper National Park wildlife guardians patrol the roads looking for “wildlife jams”.

What is a wildlife jam?

Wildlife jams are traffic jams caused by wildlife near or on roads and/or people stopping to view the animals.

What is a wildlife guardian?

Wildlife guardians are specially trained park interpreters that patrol roadways looking for “wildlife jams” then manage the jams to ensure a safe and ethical wildlife viewing experience for both visitors and wildlife.

They assess the situation and keep wildlife watchers safely inside their vehicles if the animal is too close to the road. This prevents traffic accidents and prevents overwhelming animals with people. Wildlife guardians are continually monitoring the situation to see that it is safe and that the animals are not being unduly stressed.

Where can you spot the wildlife guardian teams?

Look for the white van with wildlife decals.

From the end of May until the end of August, one wildlife guardian team will be patrolling on a daily basis on the Maligne Lake Road. The second team will be patrolling the Athabasca Valley as well as the townsite area 5 days per week starting early June.

When not busy managing wildlife jams, the wildlife guardians will set up wildlife displays and answer your questions in busy locations such as Athabasca Falls, Pyramid Lake, Maligne Lake, Medicine Lake and Maligne Canyon.

There are many wildlife jams that are not managed by the wildlife guardians. If you find yourself at one of these, please do the following:

If you see a bear

  • Consider not stopping.
  • Bears need to forage undisturbed in order to gain enough fat to survive the winter.
  • Your decision to drive by without stopping gives bears the space they need to survive in this challenging landscape

If you stop

  • Pull over where it is safe to do so.
  • Use your hazard lights to alert other drivers.
  • Observe and photograph bears from the safety of your car.
  • Remain a respectful distance from the bear.
  • Watch for a moment, take a quick photo, and then move on.
  • If a traffic jam develops, move on. It is unsafe for people and wildlife.

Fast facts

  • This is the 8th year for the wildlife guardians program in Jasper.
  • Our team includes 7 members. 
  • Since 2010, the wildlife guardians facilitated 1,500 wildlife jams and had over 92,275 educational contacts.