THE BANFF NATIONAL PARK PROJECT: WILDLIFE CORRIDORS
Join us this summer in the wild mountains and glacial valleys of Canada’s Banff National Park as we examine first-hand Banff’s wildlife corridors and their efficacy in the overall framework of the Park’s conservation strategy. Typically narrow, funnel-shaped tracts of land through developed areas, wildlife corridors are protected routes that allow species to migrate safely between habitats, and are used to balance human development and wildlife protection. Working with Parks Canada and local land managers, we will examine on-site the intertwined scientific, cultural, and management dimensions of these corridors.
Banff National Park has more than 50 mammal species: Grizzly and black bears inhabit the forested regions; Cougar, lynx and wolves are the primary predatory mammals; Elk and deer are common in the valleys; Mountain goats, bighorn sheep and pika are widespread in the alpine regions. Movement is essential for these species to sustain populations and maintain genetic variability, and wildlife often travel long distances to take advantage of seasonal changes in food and weather, find mates and denning sites, and expand home ranges. In recent times, movement has been severely limited by human activity and the resultant habitat intrusion and alteration. Establishing protective wildlife corridors has evolved as a strategy to mitigate these consequences. There are many factors involved in a successful corridor: width, ease of travel, terrain, vegetation cover, topography, snow depth, physical barriers, and human activity. Our field study will involve quantitative and qualitative analysis of existing wildlife corridor, as well as examine the political, legal, and social dimensions of conservation in Banff National Park. By the end of the program, students will have a solid understanding of Banff National Park’s wildlife corridors and the conservation strategies required to enhance their efficacy.
M. TROY BURNETT is an Associate Professor of Geography at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. He has taught numerous courses on environmental geography. His research interests presently involve conservation and the role of wildlife corridors in mitigating the impacts of climate change and human habit alteration. An avid hiker and mountain biker, he has lived and worked in the Canadian Rockies since 2005.
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