Wildlife corridors near Canmore mainly used by humans — and, often, their dogs

Wildlife corridors around Canmore, Alta., are seeing good usage, but not always by the animals they're intended for.

Of around 1.5M photos collected along wildlife corridors in the last year, 95% are of people

Wildlife advocates are raising concerns about a plan for a light industrial development near this corridor in Dead Man's Flats. (CBC)

Wildlife corridors around Canmore, Alta., are seeing good usage, but not always by the animals they're intended for. 

During a recently completed year-long study, ecologists collected about 1.5 million photos using remote cameras set up along the corridors, but around 95 per cent of those were of people, says John Paczkowski, an ecologist with Alberta Parks.

The results were presented at the Canadian Parks Conference in Banff this week.

The cameras captured around 100,000 people using the corridors and while most stick to the designated trails, they often have four-legged hiking companions with them who don't, said Paczkowski.

"It's a little bit concerning because we have wildlife corridors we're trying to maintain for wildlife movement but, in fact, the biggest users of wildlife corridors are people," he said.

Alberta Parks ecologist John Paczkowski says of 1.5 million photos collected along wildlife corridors near Canmore, 95 per cent were of people. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

"Not only that, people are often associated with dogs. We have almost 100,000 people who are having their dogs out there in the wildlife corridors and we have 60,000 separate events of dogs being off-leash in and around wildlife corridors."

The biggest concern, says Paczkowski, is that "wildlife and dogs can interact negatively."

"I'd like to see people be a little more responsible, a little more understanding of where the corridors are," he said. "It's not only [the law] you keep your dog on a leash, if you want to have wildlife on the landscape and using these corridors, it's something you have to do."

With files from Andrew Brown