Jasper National Park is world renowned for its wildlife and many deer, bighorn sheep and elk frequent the Jasper town-site. Jasper is also resident to many other animals including moose, wolves and coyotes. It is important to remember that while these animals are beautiful and may appear to be docile, they are, in fact, wild - their actions are unpredictable, especially when they are surprised or feel threatened.
Bears are naturally wary of humans and generally choose to avoid us. However, bears may threaten and even attack, especially if you surprise them or come between them and their young or their food.
Bears are also very intelligent, complex animals. Each bear encounter is unique, so there is no single strategy that will work in all situations. Parks Canada can provide information on equipment to carry when hiking and precautionary guidelines to reduce your risk when encountering bears. Successful bear sightings and photo opportunities abound in the park and can be a wonderful memory to take home with you, providing you follow the rules and act responsibly.
Protecting Our Wildlife
Wildlife is considered one of the most valuable natural resources of Jasper National Park and any animal abuse is taken very seriously. Hunting or poaching in any National Park carries heavy fines and jail terms. Even lesser types of offences, such as feeding or harassing the animals can land you in trouble with Canadian authorities. Fishing is allowed within the Park, but the limits and seasons are strictly enforced and fishing is only permitted in designated areas. You can obtain more information and the necessary licenses at the local sports shops in downtown Jasper or at the Parks Canada Information Centre.
Elk (or Wapiti) sightings are numerous in the National Parks. You will never forget the first time you come upon a herd of females and their young or see a full rack (antlers) of a bull elk, which can span 8 feet.
However, these magnificent creatures are wild animals and the best way to avoid adverse situations is to keep your distance. You should remain at least 100 feet (30 meters) away from any elk at all times.
Female elk are especially vulnerable and protective in calving season (mid-May to the end of June). Bull elk are particularly testy during the mating season (mid-September to the end of October).
Our Highways and Animal Safety
Visitors are sometimes unintentionally responsible for the death of roadside wildlife. When driving on the national park highways, please do not stop for an "animal jam" at the side of the road. Animal jams present hazardous traffic situations where people sometimes dart across busy roadways and distracted drivers may pull out in front of you. Of course, the animals may also dart out in front of you causing death to the animal and serious injury to you.
When photographing the animals, you should always keep your distance. Remain in your vehicle if possible and try not to startle them.