Mess at backcountry campground in Banff raises safety concerns

A mess left at a backcountry campground in Banff National Park is raising safety concerns for animals in the park.

A Parks Canada trail crew cleaned up food and supplies left behind by a group at Larry’s Camp (Jo9) in the Sawback area of Banff National Park last week. The campground has 10 sites.

The campers left, among other items, a roll of toilet paper, a cast iron pan, half a dozen red plastic cups, three full-sized plastic containers of condiments, a cooler, an egg carton, an opened chip bag and opened cans of food.

“If you aren’t willing to pack out what you pack in, then you shouldn’t be backcountry camping,” said Banff National Park in a Facebook post. “Littering is not only unlawful, but also hazardous to the wildlife that call Banff home.”

When animals eat food or garbage that is left unattended or left behind at campgrounds, it conditions them to approach campsites and people for an easy meal, says Parks Canada. This can cause aggressive behaviour — putting both people and animals at risk.

Parks Canada says the following items can attract wildlife, even if they are cleaned, empty or unopened. Never leave them unattended:

  • Coolers.
  • Food.
  • Garbage/wrappers.
  • Dishes/pots/cutlery.
  • Beverage containers.
  • Pet food/bowls.
  • Bottles/cans.
  • Scented products.
  • Barbecues.

Bear-proof garbage bins are provided at many campsites, but all supplies still need to be carried out when campers leave, says Parks Canada.

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