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Stay out of wild spaces

Editor: Those who read the article “Council hears review of impact statement” in the April 4 Rocky Mountain Outlook (p.


Those who read the article “Council hears review of impact statement” in the April 4 Rocky Mountain Outlook (p. 8) would have read (halfway down the second column) the following statement: “MSES did, however, agree with Golder on the fact human-usage, especially concerning dogs off-leash, are serious problems within the town and, as such are compromising the effectiveness of the corridors.”

No matter why nor how long we have been resident here, it is a privilege to live in this beautiful place. Privilege always comes with responsibilities, not entitlement. It is nearly three decades since this region of the Bow Valley was identified as a significantly important linkage between Banff National Park and Kananaskis for wild animals (many different species) and is, thus, a critical link between the northern and southern halves of the “crown of the continent” ecosystem. See

For the past 20-some-odd years, many of us in the area have been working towards the same goals as Y2Y, mostly as volunteers, to secure linkages between habitats that serve a guild of wild species well.

As a community (not just Canmore), we must regularly share that information with new residents and visitors. We must never underestimate the importance of leaving some of “it” – the wild spaces – for the species that have lived here and used this valley for the past 10 millennia.

Nor can we fail to act in ways to promote opportunities for wildlife to move with relative ease around our activities and structures. Canmore is nestled in a narrow part of the Bow Valley, with steep slopes on either side of town, and we are stuffing the valley bottom full of humans and cars, dogs and houses. We are squeezing out the creatures and killing the wilderness.

When we are in the wildlife corridors we likely do not see any wild animals because our presence tends to displace them. Wary wild creatures will step off a trail, hide in a copse of bushes or entirely avoid an area when something makes them nervous. In this narrow valley with all its recreational use, our unpredictable and sometimes persistent presence in the corridors that are left for wildlife diminishes their options to move past into productive habitat where they can find food and others of their own species; some will take a chance and move through at the risk of encountering a human (with or without dogs) and any such encounters usually end badly for the wild animal.

If reading those key sentences in the Outlook article unnerved you (as they should have), if you have asked yourself what you can do to help maintain our wild spaces and room for all the wild species around here, then heed the comments about humans and off-leash dogs.

Stop running and cycling and hiking on trails that are not designated for human use.

Stop taking your dogs into a wildlife corridor or habitat patch.

When in doubt, ask questions, learn, go somewhere else.

Have a heart for the bears and the coyotes, the wolves and the elk and the pine martens and squirrels, the wolves, cougars, lynx and all the smaller creatures that need (really need) opportunities to live without human-caused disruptions.

If/when Canmore bylaw and the provincial authorities enforce regulations, and you are fined, learn your lesson, give in gracefully and don’t get mad at anyone but yourself.

There are lots of other places for humans and dogs to play. Find them and encourage your friends and visitors to find them, too.

Colleen Campbell,


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