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Parks Canada disputes wildlife attack information reported by SportingPedia

A male Elk wanders through the grass along the Vermillion Lakes near Banff, Alberta Wednesday November 1, 2000. (CP PHOTO/Adrian Wyld) A male Elk wanders through the grass along the Vermillion Lakes near Banff, Alberta Wednesday November 1, 2000. (CP PHOTO/Adrian Wyld)
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Parks Canada says information on wildlife attacks in Canada published by a sports news and betting website isn't accurate, saying the outlet "misinterpreted" the data used and presented "exaggerated and false conclusions."

The article from SportingPedia.com examined data on human-wildlife interactions in select national parks from 2010 through 2021, using information from Parks Canada's Open Government portal.

Published on Feb. 15, the article suggested Alberta is the most common place to have a wildlife encounter, and elk are the most dangerous.

"Data reveals that elk are the most likely to attack, followed by grizzly and black bears, depending on the province or territory you live in," reads the article.

SportingPedia said its research showed there were 3,726 wildlife attacks in Alberta during the 12-year period, with the majority of those (2,299) attributed to elk.

Grizzly bear attacks (431) and black bear attacks (243) were listed second and third, while other animals made up the remainder.

However, Parks Canada is calling SportingPedia's methodology into question, saying it does not support the conclusions presented in the article.

"The data that are accessible to the public include instances of many kinds of human-wildlife interactions," said Parks Canada in a statement sent to CTV News.

"The vast majority of incidents are minor and can be managed safely with low risk to people. Some of these incidents are classified as 'aggressive encounters,' which is a broad term that includes a wide range of animal behaviours, including contact with people, property and pets; a non-contact charge towards a person, pet or vehicle; or a physical or aggressive display (non-contact).

"An aggressive encounter is not the same as an attack. Occasionally, there are hazardous incidents between people and wildlife that can result in injury or death of either wildlife or people.

"The outlet misinterpreted Parks Canada’s data, and presented exaggerated and false conclusions."

Parks Canada said it is committed to increasing public awareness about respecting wildlife and safe practices for coexistence in shared landscapes, and identifying proactive measures to reduce conflicts and avert serious incidents between people and wildlife.

CTV News has reached out to SportingPedia for comment, and will update this article with the organization’s response when we hear back.

Correction

CTV News originally reported on the findings of SportingPedia’s article but has since updated our original copy with concerns outlined by Parks Canada.

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