Bow Valley WildSmart

This program educates Bow Valley residents and visitors about managing and reducing human-wildlife conflict.

About the Bow Valley WildSmart program

WildSmart was first established in 2005 by a coalition of local interest groups including businesses, environmental groups, and public, municipal and provincial government agencies. It has since evolved into a permanent program of a local charity, the Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley.

Each year WildSmart fundraises to provide year-round programming to over 13,000 residents and visitors to the region.

Our goal is to develop a coordinated approach to education/outreach programs and help support direct management activities that will aid in increasing public safety and enjoyment as well as contribute towards sustainable wildlife populations.

Geographic Area Served

WildSmart serves all residents and visitors to the Bow Valley, including:

  • Canmore
  • the M.D. of Bighorn communities:
  • Harvie Heights
  • Exshaw
  • Lac Des Arc
  • Kananaskis Country

WildSmart and wildlife conservation

The Bow Valley, with its growing human use and location in critical wildlife habitat and movement corridors, has seen numerous encounters and human fatalities.

WildSmart is a proactive conservation strategy that encourages efforts by communities to reduce negative human-wildlife interactions.

There is a critical need for sustained public education, coordination and collaboration among government agencies, landowners, user groups and businesses.

The Bow Valley and Kananaskis Country are home to both grizzly and black bears, as well as other species such as cougars, coyotes and elk. Due to rising conflicts with all these species, WildSmart was formed as a year round multispecies education program to increase human safety and reduce human-caused wildlife mortalities in the region.

The Bow Valley Hazard Assessment outlines the causes of bear-human conflict in the valley. To read the document, see:

WildSmart education programs and services

The goal of Bow Valley WildSmart is to teach residents and visitors to live smart with wildlife, and engage residents in community-driven initiatives that help reduce human/wildlife conflicts.

Various educational programs and services are offered to help teach residents and visitors to live smart with wildlife:

Educational Materials

We develop and distribute educational materials.

For hotels, restaurants and businesses

  • brochures
  • tent cards for restaurants and hotels
  • posters
  • magnets

For community residents

  • backyard attractant flyers
  • garbage bin decals
  • WildSmart signs
  • bumper stickers

Social Media Resources

These include:

  • an interactive website
  • Twitter and Facebook pages
  • Youtube channel
  • WildSmart on Banff Centre Radio

The WildSmart website provides information on how to be safe on the trails and at home.

Members of our online newsletter "On the Wild Side" receive weekly bear activity reports and, in the winter, a monthly wildlife report.

Subscribers to our newsletter and Facebook page can post questions, add comments on wildlife activity and learn about upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

WildSmart Twitter is used to post bear warnings, closures and upcoming events.

Living with Wildlife Workshops

Our workshops offer online and print resources designed to provide young families, newcomers, residents with English as a second language, weekend recreationists, youth, and outdoor educators with the tools to be WildSmart in the Bow Valley and Kananaskis Country.

Participants will join in wildlife safety orientations; bear spray training, learn about the challenges of coexisting with wildlife and gain a sense of stewardship for wildlife conservation in the region.

Programs will be provided in multiple languages and free child care will be made available to young families.

Community Events

WildSmart engages residents and visitors at community events year round.

In the winter we hold a monthly Speaker's Series to inform residents of recent wildlife research and issues.

In the summer and fall our WildSmart On The Trail travelling kiosk is present at numerous recreation events, trail heads and dog off-leash areas to provide on-site wildlife safety information.

We also provide bear spray demonstrations on site at recreation-based events.

Children's Programs

We provide specifically designed children's programs for local schools, clubs and summer camp programs.

WildSmart programs offer local children an opportunity to learn about wildlife safety and share their experience with the public through radio spots, videos and newspaper articles.

Volunteer Program

The WildSmart volunteer program provides opportunities for the public to become volunteers by helping distribute educational materials and assist with outreach programs such as berry bush removal projects.

Volunteers can also apply to join our advisory committee, a group that provides program advice, support and occasion for community input and engagement.

Partnership Programs

Over the past seven years WildSmart has been working in a partnership program with Alberta Tourism, Parks, and Recreation to facilitate a community-based volunteer program.

The Wildlife Ambassadors are a growing group of trained volunteers who rove trails throughout the Bow Valley and Kananaskis Country to provide wildlife safety information to visitors and locals.

Nature for Newcomers

This program offers new Canadians, English as a second language residents and newcomers wildlife safety programs so they can enjoy Alberta's protected areas more safely, reduce conflict between people and wildlife, and instill a value for wildlife conservation.

The Nature for Newcomers web pages provide wildlife safety information in French, Spanish, English, Japanese and Tagalog


Learn more about the WildSmart program:

Follow WildSmart on social media:

To read more about the Nature for Newcomers program, see: