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Canmore Homeowner Wildlife Tips!

Canmore Homeowner Wildlife Tips!

Today, lets talk about some Canmore Homeowner Wildlife Tips.

Canmore and the Bow Valley region are known world-wide for our breathtaking scenery and incredible opportunities to interact with wildlife. The species we have here range from small mammals like the pika and ground squirrel, to large ones like elk and moose. We are also very lucky to have both black bears and grizzly bears, and here in the Alberta Rockies we have over 50 species of mammal alone.

A Bit of History

Given the extraordinary landscape of the Bow Valley, there has been a massive influx of not only annual visitors but also full-time residents. In the 1970s, Canmore was still only a simple mining town. With the last mine closure in 1979 and the 1988 Winter Olympics, the local population began to expand. Today, Canmore alone has around 15,000 permanent residents, plus 4,000 part-time residents. Combined with the nearly 5 million annual visitors to the area, it’s safe to say we have more people in the Bow Valley and that number is expected to grow.

With more people, we of course have more effects on and interactions with wildlife as well. In 1997, community leaders recognized this and decided to act, forming the Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley. Their mandate is to educate decision makers and the public on ecosystem information, including helpful tips for residents and visitors alike.

Today, lets take a look at some of their Attractant Management tips Bow Valley homeowners can use when planning their next landscaping job or simple for day-to-day use in protecting our precious wildlife.

1. Choosing Plant Species for Landscaping

Cherry Blossoms - Canmore Homeowner Wildlife Tips

Every homeowner would love to have a gorgeous flowering tree or shrub as the centrepiece to their manicured yard. Who wouldn’t? Unfortunately, one of the trade-offs to our magnificent natural area here is that we are in bear country. When you plant a flowering or fruit-bearing tree or shrub, you may be unknowingly attracting bears to your yard. Now, while it would be nice to view a couple of grizzly bears on your front lawn from the safety of your window, it may actually not be very safe for these beautiful creatures and could actually wind up getting them into hot water.

Try adding these non-fruit bearing deciduous trees & shrubs as the centre of your landscaping instead:

  • Calypso White Ash (for beautiful colours in the fall!)
  • Weeping Larch (definitely a funky and unique look!)
  • Minnesota Snowflake Mockorange (for that blossom look!)
  • Double Flowering Plum (because who doesn’t love pink?)

A full list of plants to choose and plants to avoid can be found here.

2. Natural and Unnatural Attractants

Buffaloberry Bushes

Canmore Homeowner Wildlife Tips

When we think of bears, Hollywood would have us believe that they feast exclusively on human flesh. The truth is, black and grizzly bears are omnivorous, and one of their favourite foods happens to be berries. Buffaloberries are found throughout the Bow Valley, and when they ripen in July, each bear can eat as many as 100,000 per day. Thats a lot of berries. Berry bushes are most abundant where the forest canopy has ‘opened up,’ which is common near developments, trails and other man-made structures.
Buffalo berries are bright red, yellow and orange and measure about 4 mm wide. Berry bushes can reach 1.5 metres tall and have oval, dark green leaves.
Berry removal programs eliminate attractants from human use areas, allowing bears to seek food elsewhere, such as in less developed areas within Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country. Bush clearing and prescribed burns for the Mountain Pine Beetle programs are creating more open habitat for buffalo berry in these undeveloped areas. If you have a buffaloberry bush on your property, be sure to remove the fruit in July or earlier each year.



Garbage is a major unnatural attractant for bears. In 1999, Canmore implemented bear-proof waste bins, and in 2000 the Municipal District of Bighorn did the same. You’ve probably seen these bins all over town, with handles that seal them shut so wildlife stays out and garbage stays in. While it means we don’t have the convenience of door-to-door waste pickup, it does ensure our amazing wildlife stays wild and only feeds on appropriate non-human foods.

Despite these wonderful bins, there are still other unnatural attractants to bears. These include unsecured recycling, non-functioning bear proof garbage bins, pets, pet food, barbeques, and outdoor compost. Take a walk around your property today to see where you may be able to manage these attractants around your home.

3. Backyard Basics Homeowners Can Practice – Canmore Homeowner Wildlife Tips

backyard BBQ

In addition to removing certain plants, shrubs, and other unnatural attractants, WildSmart recommends a few additional steps you can take to protect wildlife on or around your property.

  • Do not use bird feeders of any kind during bear season (April 1 to November 30). Use bird baths instead as a safe option.
  • Remember to clean the ground underneath bird feeders.
  • Do not feed your pets outside, and store pet food indoors.
  • Keep BBQs clean and take drip pans inside.
  • Keep your lawn mowed and yard weed-free, especially of dandelions.
  • Consider using an electric fence to keep wildlife out of your garden.
  • Do not feed wildlife. Feeding wildlife such as deer in urban areas has long-term implications such as increased disease risk, habituation to humans, habitat destruction, increased wildlife vehicle collisions and public safety concerns.

Canmore Homeowner Wildlife Tips

For more information on WildSmart and the Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley, visit their website here. You can also contact me any time for smart Canmore homeowner tips!