Remote camera technology in Banff National Park is giving wildlife experts a rare glimpse at cougar activities in populated areas.

Human wildlife conflict specialists discovered a deer kill just outside of the Banff town site so they decided to set up a remote camera, triggered by movement, to see what happens.

They say a female cougar brought down the deer and she and her kitten fed on it one evening before it was taken over by two other adult cougars.

Steve Michel is a Human Wildlife Conflict Specialist with Parks Canada and he says there are about a dozen cougars living in the Bow Valley and many are active around the Banff town site.

Michel says people need to always be aware of cougars because unlike bears they are active 12 months of the year.

“They should be travelling in groups, making noise, have their dog on a leash at all times. If they like listening to an iPod, maybe they should avoid doing that when they're out for a hike on a trail or out for a run somewhere nearby. That's okay in a place like Calgary but not a wilderness environment like Banff National Park,” said Michel.

He says the cougars are attracted to the area around the town because of the high population of deer and elk.

“Banff is actually a good low-snow environment so if offers good montane habitat for the ungulate such as deer and elk and that just allows cougars to feed on them and follow them around the landscape,” said Michel.

Experts say there are a few things you can do if you do spot a cougar:

  • Do not approach the cougar
  • Leave room for the cougar to escape
  • Pick up children
  • Don’t turn your back on the cougar
  • Don’t run or play dead, back away slowly
  • Stay calm and talk to the cougar in a strong, firm voice
  • Make yourself as large as possible, hold your arms above your head

If you are attacked, you should fight back and let the animal know that you are the predator not the prey.

Michel says they have not had any reports of contact with the cats and says that cougar sightings are rare.

For information on cougar safety, visit the Alberta Parks website or view the PDF below.

Living With Cougars