let them be

Living close to the mountains, and next to a provincial park, means we see a lot of wildlife. We are lucky... blessed even. For seeing wildlife in their natural environments is a gift. A glimpse into nature's own heart. Whenever we make our drive from Calgary to Lake Louise, or up toward Jasper, we always hope to see a bear or a moose in the bush. Or even a mountain goat, which we have seen many times.

And sometimes we even get a visitor in our own backyard.
We saw this little guy and his friends over the holidays, just meters from our home. They visit often, and we are thrilled each time. But we never bother them, we never approach them, and we certainly never feed them.

If you love wildlife... let them be.

A couple of days ago I read an article (here's the link) about people who were baiting wolves along the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff National Park. These people offered these wild creatures a feast of home cooked turkey, in an apparent attempt to get a photo. And sadly, this is not the first time something like this has happened.

This upsets me. Our love for these animals sometimes makes us do things that aren't always in the best interest of the animal. We want to somehow be close to these beautiful creatures. But so many people do not understand the implications of getting too close and feeding wild animals. And some simply do not care. Feeding any wild animal, whether it be a deer or a wolf, is a bad idea. It can lead to dependency, loss of fear of humans (which means more contact), health problems with the animals, and the attraction of more wild animals to the area. It isn't safe for humans or the animals.

In fact, it is illegal to feed, entice, or disturb any animal in a national park.

If you are fortunate enough to see wildlife, that's great! But please keep your distance. If you can safely do it, take a photo. Or better yet, simple observe... because you have been given a glimpse into nature's belly. But do not get too close, and never bait them to get a better look.

The article I read listed safe distances to keep, according to The Parks Canada Code of Ethics:
It suggests photographers — whether amateur or professional — keep a safe distance: 100 metres from bears; 30 metres from other large species; and 200 metres from coyote, fox or wolf dens.
There are fines for feeding wildlife, which can go as high as $25,000.

If you love wild life... let them be.

Read more here: Parks Canada.