We’ve all seen the notices a million times: do not feed the wildlife. Yet visitors to Canadian national parks still have trouble resisting the urge to toss wild animals a bone—literally.
Parks Canada recently released a video that captured a person feeding a bear from their car. The video, taken last year from the side of Highway 93 in Banff National Park, shows a visitor tossing food from the window of their parked car. Since then, the person has been tracked down and handed a fine of $1000.
Parks Canada’s decision to release the video as part of a push to educate visitors about how to properly interact with wildlife and to encourage people to come forward if they see others feeding animals. The public is being asked to report any incidents they see.
As Brianna Burley from Parks Canada told CBC News, “People are naturally curious about these animals and rightfully so—it’s so cool to see them. It’s ok for people to stop and take a picture and carry on. Where we get the trouble is when people aren’t just taking a photo and moving on.”
“We are sharing the … video that helped lead to these charges in order to educate people about why the feeding of wildlife is dangerous for both people and animals, as well as to seek public support in the reporting of wildlife feeding incidents, which may further deter this unlawful behaviour,” Parks Canada said in a press release.
According to Burley, feeding bears isn’t just unlawful—it’s dangerous. “Once a bear has gotten into human food, it starts down that road of food conditioning where it starts to make that association with people and food reward,” she told the CBC. “That’s where the danger comes in, because bears start getting closer and closer to people because in the past they’ve been able to get food from that. This isn’t good, by any means.”
Incidents of people feeding wildlife are on the rise, according to Jim Mamalis, park warden supervisor for Lake Louise and Yoho National Parks. There are currently eight active investigations of feeding incidents, and while a few years ago that number would have been high, Mamalis told the Calgary Sun that recently, it’s become the norm: “It seems like the last two, three, four years it’s exploded again.”
Parks Canada is asking anyone who sees others feeding or interacting inappropriately with wildlife to report it to 1-888-WARDENS.