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Banff, Canmore look to fence off 'salad bars for ungulates'

Officials in Banff and Canmore are looking to set up fences around recreation grounds and a schoolyards to keep hungry ungulates from turning the town's green spaces into all-you-can-eat buffets.

Mountain towns plan to fence recreation grounds and schoolyards that attract hungry elk, deer

Hungry ungulates are attracted to large patches of grass at the recreation grounds in Banff and the Lawrence Grassi Middle School-Centennial Park green space in Canmore. (Parks Canada )

Officials in Banff and Canmore are looking to set up fences around recreation grounds and schoolyards to keep hungry ungulates from turning the town's green spaces into all-you-can-eat buffets.

Darren Enns, manager of development services for the Town of Banff, said elk and deer are especially drawn in by the "unnatural attraction" that is turf grass.

"We like to call it a salad bar for ungulates," Enns said. "That's something that we're trying to recalibrate and remember that we're trying to live near wildlife, not necessarily with wildlife."

Banff town council is being asked to approve a fence around the recreation grounds as part of their budget deliberations.

There's also a proposal in Canmore to fence off the field at Lawrence Grassi Middle School and Centennial Park.

"The challenge of course is that with the elk can come predators, and so the ability for animals that are preying on elk to come into our developed areas increases when the elk are in these areas start with," Enns said.

According to the Town of Canmore's capital budget documents, the province has been clear with the town that fencing off the school and Centennial Park is a priority in the community. Alberta Environment and Parks has provided $75,000 in funding to help with costs.

The Town of Canmore is looking at installing fencing around Lawrence Grassi Middle School-Centennial Park to keep away hungry ungulates who like to feed on the turf. (Town of Canmore)

Beyond council approval, any development within Banff National Park is subject to an environmental impact assessment, which allows Parks Canada to give their input on the proposed solution.

"We set an aggressive goal to eliminate human/wildlife conflict by 2028. And certainly this is a step in that direction," Enns said.

"We like to think of Banff as having a number of successes already, for example bear-proof garbage bins, and we think we can expand on that."

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