The animals might look cute, but step too close and you might get hurt — financially, that is. Jasper's wildlife just got a new layer of protection to stop humans from interacting with them. According to officials, there's been more and more cases of people stopping on the road to view animals, and sometimes even crowding them.
In a notice posted on Tuesday, June 9, Jasper National Park unveiled strict new guidelines to keep people away from their critters. The rules will be effective until Thursday, July 9.
Parks Canada resource conservation manager, David Argument, told Narcity that it's a new way to help park wardens protect local wildlife.
According to the new rules, you can't go within 100 metres of "any bear, cougar, or wolf, except when completely inside a legally positioned motor vehicle."
Likewise, you're not allowed to leave your vehicle within "30 metres of any elk, moose, caribou, sheep, or goat," the notice explains.
Interfering with the "free, unimpeded movement of wildlife" or moving close enough to create a "potentially hazardous condition or situation" is also a no-go.
If you break the rules, Argument confirmed, you can get slapped with fines up to $25,000, as well as an automatic court date.
However, the conservation manager said that the fine is a last resort.
To help keep wildlife wild, we've implemented new restrictions on leaving your vehicle around wildlife. Full detai… https://t.co/3qyjJII3Xe— Jasper National Park (@Jasper National Park) 1592350229.0
"Ultimately if we find people who repeatedly disregard the guidance on respecting that distance, then this gives kind of a tool of last resort," Argument told Narcity.
"We're not setting out with the hopes of having to charge anybody with this," he continued, adding that most encounters will end with a conversation and lesson in respecting wildlife.
Argument added that more and more people are stopping on the road in the park to view animals, "some of which result in contact and other dangerous situations."
While Parks Canada has tried educating visitors, "compliance is not always a successful," he said.
"This is not about trying to keep people from having really valuable, meaningful encounters with wildlife in our national parks," he added.
According to Argument, it's just to help give people and wildlife the space they need to feel safe.
Keep that social distance, people!