Our parks play an important role in providing outdoor space and access to nature to the people of BC and visitors to our province. But what happens when we remove the people from those spaces and leave the parks to the wildlife? In 2020, the park system was closed, and Joffre Lakes Provincial Park did not reopen for 14 months. In that time, there were very few people in the park but plenty of creatures eating, exploring, and living there.
Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is a magnificent area of jagged peaks, icefields, cold rushing streams, and three turquoise blue lakes. Joffre is known for these incredible lakes and their striking, saturated blue colour. The colour is caused by “rockflour” – or glacial silt – that is suspended in the water and reflects green and blue wavelengths of sunlight. Because of the amazing scenery and picturesque blue lakes, Joffre Lakes sees many park users; in 2019 there were almost 200,000 visitors, a 222% increase since 2010.
Since Joffre Lakes Provincial Park reopened in June 2021, the impact of humans has again become evident. Wildlife usually stays away from places with a lot of people, but some of the busy trails at Joffre Lakes continue to host some wild four-legged creatures. A day pass system has been put in place at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park (BC Parks Day-Use Pass Reservation System – BC Parks) during peak season to help control the number of people and lessen our impact on the wildlife who live there.
What are some other ways we can lighten our impact on wildlife when we are visiting the parks to ensure our natural spaces remain wild?
Wildlife is meant to be wild
- Travel in numbers and make some noise – startling large animals may not end well so make your presence known.
- Help keep wildlife wild – when you see animals, do not approach, or taunt them; give them space to simply be.
- Know how to look for signs of recent animal activity, follow posted wildlife closures, and know what to do in case of an encounter.
Wild animals are supposed to eat wild things
- Fed animals lose their natural fear of humans and can become aggressive.
- Wildlife have access to a whole forest full of food; they’re not hungry.
- Animals change their patterns to accommodate food sources like garbage; don’t mess with nature.
- Learn more about Wildlife Safety
Fido can’t always be free – for good reason
- Leashing your dog keeps you, them, and other wildlife safe. Triple win.
- An unleashed dog can cause negative impacts to the trail, park visitors, natural resources, and sensitive wildlife that call the park home.
- Adhere to posted signs regarding on- and off-leash areas.
Parks are not self-cleaning
- Trash ruins the park for everyone (including wildlife). Remember to pack out your garbage.
- Litter attracts wildlife and increases wildlife-human conflict.
Our wildlife trail cameras give us a window into what is happening in the park when we are away. These photos were taken when Joffre Lakes Provincial Park was closed.
But these photos have been taken since the park has reopened with the day pass system and we are seeing some animals who are usually averse to being in areas with human activity.