IN THE MEDIA: Banff records highest number of violations among Canada's national parks

By Colette Derworiz, Calgary Herald

From feeding wildlife to illegally collecting elk antlers, wardens in Banff National Park laid 1,070 charges in the past decade — the most of any national park in Canada, says a new federal report.

The paper, tabled recently in the House of Commons, breaks down how many people were charged in 38 national parks, the cost of the average fine and the most common offences in the past decade, from Jan. 1, 2006, to May 4, 2016.

Banff had the most charges in the country, with the second and third highest number laid in Pacific Rim National Park in British Columbia, which saw 534 charges, and Alberta’s Jasper National Park, with 277 charges.

Of the more than 1,000 Banff charges, 757 led to fines averaging $277.89, the eighth-highest average in the country.

“Overall, the most common type of charge that we see is generally a violation of the camping regulation,” said Tamaini Snaith, director of the law enforcement branch with Parks Canada. “That can be for camping outside of the designated camping area, it can be for camping without a permit or it can be for breaking the conditions of that permit.

 

“For example, leaving a messy campsite or not securing your food — which can obviously attract wildlife and lead to habituation of animals and lots of safety concerns for both people and wildlife.”

Officials with Parks Canada said there are a couple of reasons for the higher number of charges laid in Banff.

“Banff is our busiest national park so that does mean more potential for incidents,” Snaith said. “But we also have more park wardens in Banff than anywhere else, so our ability to detect incidents and respond to them is higher.”

The federal report comes as dozens of charges in Banff National Park are making their way through the courts after a summer of concerns with wildlife, such as wolves and grizzly bears.

Two wolves were shot and killed by wildlife officers after they started aggressively approaching campers after they got a taste for human food and garbage.

NDP MP Wayne Stetski, who represents Kootenay-Columbia in interior B.C., and acts as the critic on parks issues, requested the report, which was tabled in September.

“In essence, I’m trying to figure out whether (fines and penalties) are accomplishing what they are set out to do and that’s, of course, that people are respecting the national parks under the National Park Act,” he said.

Stetski, who would like to see a review of the policies, said national parks need a good education system first and foremost.

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