Illegal swim damages rare snail habitat in Banff National Park
Offender could face fine up to $50,000 and jail time
The habitat of an endangered species of tiny snails found only in Banff National Park has been damaged after a swimmer took an illegal dunk into a pool at Sulphur Mountain.
Bill Hunt, resource conservation manager at Parks Canada, said that swim resulted in damage to the home of one most at-risk species in the park: the Banff Springs snail.
Hunt said Parks Canada is looking for information about the offender, who could face thousands of dollars in fines, or even jail time. The following is an excerpt from Hunt's interview with CBC's The Homestretch.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Listen to the full interview here.
Q: What happened?
A: Around 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 3, Cave and Basin staff at the national historic site received a report that a man appeared to have been swimming in a pool, located at the end of what's known as the cave.
Any time that gets disturbed, thrown aside or washed downstream, it definitely affects snails and snail habitat.
Q: Can you tell us more about these snails? What are they, and why are they at risk?
A: The Banff Springs snail is found nowhere else in the world. These are found only in seven different pools, along the slopes of Sulphur Mountain just below the upper hot [pool] where you can go for a soak.
We encourage people to come in, and respectfully you can view the snails and see them in their natural habitat.
Q: How can you prevent this from happening, short of closing it down?
A: We rely on education and making sure people understand why it's important.
Q: What happens to the swimmer if they're found?
A: This is a contravention under the National Parks Act and under the Species at Risk Act.
They could face a fine of up to $50,000 or imprisonment for up to a year, or both.
Anyone with information is asked to call Banff dispatch at 403-762-1470.