WildSmart is a proactive conservation program that encourages efforts by Bow Valley communities to reduce negative human-wildlife interactions.
The Bow Valley is home to over 25,000 people. It is also a major movement corridor for grizzly bears, black bears, cougars, wolves, elk, coyotes, and other large mammals.
As wildlife and people compete for a finite amount of space, numerous interactions occur. Although most are harmless, some can pose a serious threat to both people and wildlife, resulting in human injury, property damage, and/or dead or relocated animals.
WildSmart leads diverse Education and Outreach efforts to raise public awareness and empower citizens to coexist safely with wildlife. We also train enthusiastic volunteers to share their knowledge with their peers by becoming Wildlife Ambassadors, and we undertake Attractant Management to help keep wild animals out of areas heavily used by people.
Check out our real-time resources, such as the Bear Report and Trail Closures and Warnings, as well a variety of information guides about how you can keep yourself and wildlife safe in the Bow Valley.
The Biosphere Institute implements WildSmart in close collaboration with Alberta Environment and Parks, the Town of Canmore, and the Municipal District of Bighorn.
education and outreach
We offer a variety of programs that teach residents and visitors to live smart with wildlife.
The Wildlife Ambassadors are dedicated volunteers who rove trails throughout the Bow Valley and Kananaskis Country, providing wildlife ecology and safety information to visitors and locals. WildSmart has been working with Alberta Parks since 2007 to facilitate this community-led program.
WildSmart engages in efforts to limit food sources that draw wildlife into residential areas, school grounds, commercial facilities, and campgrounds and trails. Attractants include natural foods such as fruit-bearing shrubs and trees, as well as unnatural, human-related foods like garbage, coolers, compost, bird feeders and domestic livestock and pets. Contact us to borrow fruit pickers and pruning shears free of charge to remove fruit and berry bushes on your property.
From April through November, WildSmart publishes a weekly summary of bear and other wildlife activity between the Banff Park East Gate and Bow Valley Provincial Park. The summary compiles information provided by government agencies and sightings reported by the public.
Click here to receive bear reports.
current warnings and closures
Before you head out on the trails in bear country, check the current closures and warnings.
living smart with wildlife
Bears, cougars, wolves, and elk are all residents of the Bow Valley. While in most cases wildlife have no interest in encountering humans, confrontations do happen. Learn more about what you can do to avoid negative encounters and what to do if they happen.
WildSmart resources include our Living Smart with Wildlife and Nature for Newcomers brochures, which teach visitors and residents avoid and manage wildlife encounters, as well as guides for how to use bear spray and tips for managing attractants in your backyard.