Wildlife corridors are the main cause of trail closures in the Bow Valley. The more common reasons for trail closures -- user conflicts, erosion and land ownership --are all relatively minor factors in the Bow Valley, compared to the restrictions imposed because of wildlife corridors.
What’s a wildlife corridor? A wildlife corridor is a dedicated strip of land that allows wildlife to move (or migrate) freely from one area to another. A wildlife corridor links “habitat patches” and, in theory, allows the large furry animals (like bears, cougars, and elk) to circumvent the sprawl of modern urban human development, so they can do what large furry animals want to do: namely, hunt, eat, sleep, avoid people, raise babies, and get it on with the opposite sex.
A host of scientific papers can be found which define the minimum shape, size, slope and width of effective wildlife corridors. The science is relatively new and while there are significant differences of opinion, the bottom line is that we need functional wildlife corridors. The Bow Valley Mountain Bike Alliance supports functional wildlife corridors and we believe that the majority of mountain bikers agree. We do not believe that outright trail closures necessarily result in functional wildlife corridors. Trail closures simply displace recreationalists, often intensifying uses in other areas. We believe that good and intelligent trail design can allow functional corridors and recreationalists to co-exist.
The Bow Valley, with its steep mountainous terrain, and human development have pushed both mountain bikers and big furry animals into narrow corridors. The unfortunate reality is that land managers have closed long established trails because they deem these trails to conflict with the newly identified wildlife corridors. Who loses? We all do. Trails are closed and animals are displaced (or worse). The challenge to all of us is to design a land use system that allows mountain bikers (and all recreationists) to utilize the awesome terrain in the Bow Valley without adversely affecting the wildlife corridors – and that is a really tough nut to crack. Please ride with respect.
To learn more, see Parks Canada's Bears and People at
and What Does a Bear See in This Landscape at