Calgary

Banff Marathon forced to change route due to wildlife concerns

Thanks to increased bear and wolf activity in the area, organizers were forced to break out plan B for the fourth annual run that takes place on Sunday.

Sunday's race will be in a more protected corridor after a wild spring of bears and wolves

Paul Regensburg, the event coordinator for the Banff Marathon, said wolves and bears have forced them to change the route of the race this year. (Erik Tremblay/CBC)

Some furry, four-legged locals have forced a route change for the Banff Marathon this year.

Thanks to increased bear and wolf activity in the area, organizers were forced to break out plan B for the fourth annual run that takes place on Sunday.

"Because it's been very active, Parks Canada has asked us to go to our secondary route," said Paul Regensburg, the event director.

"It is a bit more protected from the wildlife and it's on a corridor where there's less wildlife."

Wolves and bears

This spring, park staff have been grappling with how to handle a wolf pack that is aggressive and accustomed to humans, going so far as to kill a female in the pack that was "extremely bold" and unfazed by efforts to chase it away.

Additionally, a campground was shut down after a black bear showed signs of being food conditioned when it approached a car and trashed a tent. 

Regendsburg said the alternate route helps them "co-habitate with the other animals in the park."

This black bear was photographed at the Castle Mountain campground, exhibiting what officials said could be food-conditioned behaviour. (Parks Canada)

Record-breaking year

This year's Banff Marathon has a record number of runners signed up, from 24 countries. 

"It's a pretty amazing draw, and it's about 2,250 participants this year," said Regensburg.

He said the race is safe — safer than going on a hike — thanks to all the runners, as well as park staff and RCMP along the route. 

Only the marathon and half marathon are affected by the changes, with the 10-kilometre run taking place entirely within the townsite.

With files from Erik Tremblay

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