This project had its origins in the summer of 2016 when I was working at the Two Jack Main Campground. That summer a female wolf with pups became human-food habituated in and around the campground. As a campground attendant, I and my co-workers repeatedly directed campers to use the food lockers provided, to keep their campsites clean and not to leave BBQs out when not in the campsite, etc. We issued countless warnings and violation notices. By the end of July tent camping was banned due to the female wolf’s “bold behavior.” She was shot by Park’s personnel in loop 14 of Two Jack Main campground, but tragically it wasn’t a clean shot and the wolf’s location was uncertain. The campground was evacuated and volunteers, me among them, searched the campground on foot armed only with bear spray and radios. After several days the wolf was located. It had taken a long time to die. Without a mother to care for them, her pups died too. This was the second food-habituated wolf killed by Parks Canada that summer. In total six wolves died of unnatural causes in Banff National Park in the summer of 2016.
This experience had a lasting effect on me. Over the next two and a half years, I thought a great deal about these wolves. I was distressed by their suffering and ensuing deaths. I questioned the location of the Two Jack campgrounds in a wildlife corridor; the almost impossible task of persuading thousands of campers to keep hundreds of campsites free of animal-attractants and the true purpose of a national park. Wolf expert, Paul Paquet, interviewed by the Rocky Mountain Outlook in the wake of these deaths, called the Bow Valley a, “wildlife ghetto.” “[It] has two townsites that are growing, two highways, a corridor for high transmission power lines, dams, golf courses, ski hills….so you can imagine the responses for wolves and wildlife – it’s a ghetto for them and they’re trying to survive in there.” Loop 14 honours these wolves and seeks to bring peace to their spirits and to mine.
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