by Sharon Auld
CANADIAN ROCKY MOUNTAIN DESTINATION WEDDING
Tip #14 – Wedding Guests and Wildlife in the National Parks
If you’re planning a wedding in Banff, Canmore, Lake Louise or Jasper, aside from the stunning scenery, one of the main attractions of visiting a National Park is the wildlife. If you’re planning a wedding in a National Park, it’s important to consider the safety of you and your guests at all times, especially if you’re going to be married off a hiking trail or in a remote area. Even if you’re getting married at a luxury resort in Banff, you and your guests may still come in contact with wildlife. All of your guests may not have visited a national park before or experienced wildlife at close proximity. Consider educating your guests on what to do to safely enjoy and observe wildlife.
The National Parks are home to many species of wildlife large and small, including: elk, bear, moose and deer and it’s important to respect the animals in their natural habitat. Even though the animals may appear quiet and accustomed to people, they are still wild animals and a potential threat to humans.
So what can you do to help protect both your guests and the animals? One idea, is to include a printed pamphlet on wildlife safety tips in each guests’ welcome package or put safety tips on your wedding website so guests know what to expect before they arrive at your wedding destination. If you have lots of guests who have never experienced the National Parks before, consider setting up organized tours and activities so your guests can experience the beauty of the parks in a safe manner. There are even tours set up specifically for wildlife viewing!
Here are a few more wildlife safety tips to consider:
- Be aware of and respectful of wildlife.
- Drive cautiously and observe park speed limits. Slow down if animals are on or near the road and be aware that they could suddenly run across the road or change direction. If there is one animal in sight, there may be more waiting in the trees to cross the road and could run out suddenly.
- Never feed wildlife.
- Keep your distance from wild animals (including bear and elk). Never approach wildlife. Try not to disturb them and if you feel you must take a photo stay in your vehicle and use a telephoto lens or binoculars to observe.
- Do not litter. There are bear-proof garbage recepticles located throughout Banff National Park. Food attracts wildlife and animals could become a nuisance or threat if they become dependent on human food.
- If you see a young animal, remember that their protective parent is likely not far away.
- Mating season and birthing seasons can bring out aggresive nature in wildlife.
- When hiking stick to marked trails and make noise to alert animals you are nearby as they will generally keep a natural distance from humans.
- Observe and respect trail closures and advisories alerting hikers to potential animal threats such as grizzly bears.
- Respect all Park rules.
- Do not stop on the side of the road and get out of your vehicle to take photos. It’s illegal in Canada’s Parks to do so!