No bear selfies: Banff warden reminds visitors to keep distance from wildlife

After an Edmonton couple was fined $3,000 for getting too close to some bighorn sheep, officials are warning against bear selfies and other causes of wildlife stress.

Getting too close can cause stress for animals and lead to fines or charges for visitors

A visitor to Jasper National Park takes a selfie with a black bear in the background. Parks officials are reminding visitors to keep their distance from wildlife. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

Park officials are reminding visitors to keep their distance from wildlife after an Edmonton couple was fined $3,000 for riding their bikes through a herd of bighorn sheep on a highway in Banff National Park. 

Banff park warden supervisor Terry Willis says too many visitors continue to crowd animals in the park.

"One of the regulations is that you're not permitted to harass or chase or hunt wildlife in a national park," he said of the rules in place to protect animals. 

"Basically anything you do that negatively impacts or disturbs wildlife would be an offence and subject to warnings or charges under our regulations."

'You think it would be obvious'

Parks Canada actually has guidelines for how much space should be given to particular animals, including 100 metres for a bear, and as close as 30 metres for some larger beasts. 

"You think it would be obvious, but each year we have people getting really close to bears to get pictures or selfies or things like that," said Willis. 

"So it's surprising how close you actually find people trying to get to bears, wolves, coyotes, big elk, things like that."

Willis said wardens don't expect the public to know all the rules, but says you should err on the side of caution and keep a good distance from wildlife to avoid stressing either them or your bank account.