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Extraordinary Wildlife – A Reason to Stay in Banff National Park

Would you like to stay at a hotel at the heart of one of nature’s most beautiful National Parks? The Rundlestone Lodge is the perfect place to experience all that the Canadian Rocky Mountains have to offer. Staying in Banff provides the opportunity for you to see a plethora of wildlife. What are some types of animals could you see while visiting the mountains?

Bears

Banff & Jasper National Parks are home to both grizzly and black bears. How do you know if you are seeing a grizzly bear or another type of bear? You will know it’s a grizzly when you see the large hump at the shoulders and long claws. Grizzlies have long brown fur often with some silver colouring on the tips. They are very large with females weighing up to about 385 pounds and males weighing as much as 770 pounds. Their weight and strong structure make them one of the most powerful bears in the mountain region.

Grizzly bears typically roam the land by themselves unless they are a female bear with cubs. These bears are at the top of the food chain with humans being their only predator. Grizzly bears are seen regularly in the Bow Valley or Icefields Parkways.

Black bears are often seen more in the parks. They are often confused with grizzlies because their fur, too, can be brown. Generally, adult black bears are smaller than grizzlies and do not have the identifiable hump at the shoulder.

What does a bear eat? Although meat-eaters, the vast majority of a bear’s diet is plant-based. They enjoy foraging on a variety of nuts, dandelions, and, in particular, berries that grow wild throughout the woods. These bears do not have a very picky diet, often feeding on meat such as rodents and deer that are plentiful in the mountainous region as well.

Bighorn Sheep

When you go for a drive up the twisting roadway to Mount Norquay, you might be able to capture pictures of bighorn sheep. The top of Mount Norquay is just a short distance from the centre of Banff and provides plenty of opportunities to view these sheep. Primarily grazing the lands for grass, forbs, and shrubs, these herbivores like open environments which allow them to escape their predators that typically live in more forested areas.

When you see one bighorn sheep, you will likely see another so have your camera prepared as they like to hang out in groups of anywhere from 10 to 100. The males and females are usually separated unless it is mating time. When is the mating season for these mountain sheep? In the fall is when you will see both sexes of the species mingling.

How do you distinguish between a bighorn sheep and other sheep? The males are called rams and have large, thick spiral horns while the females are called ewes and have shorter spike-like horns. Big Horn Sheep have brown coats, thick in winter and lighter in summer and they can look very scraggy at times when they are between coats! Males can weigh up to 280 pounds whereas the females weigh less at around 200 pounds.

The cliff area around Lake Minnewanka is another great spot for viewing bighorn sheep so take in nature and watch for these gorgeous animals along the way.

Pika

Have you ever seen a pika? This cute little animal is related to hares and rabbits. They have short bodies with big, rounded ears, usually appearing brown or black.

Pikas can survive in inhospitable environments due to their thick fur to keep them warm. They are strong animals living in the high mountainous ranges. If you like climbing high to the tops of mountains, you have a good chance of seeing a pika. You will probably hear it before seeing it as these creatures are known to scream out a high-pitched sound to protect their territory. Why do pikas survive well in this type of environment? Not many other animals will venture up the mountain tops so pikas have a good chance of staying away from predators here.

The pikas live in groups to further enhance their protection and are territorial of their space, even guarding it against other pikas. So, don’t get too close to these furry mammals when you find them in the heights of Moraine Lake. Pikas weighs about 4.5 pounds. They might weigh so little because they are plant eaters that prefer to munch on green plants.

If you are lucky enough to see a pika, you won’t be disappointed, so make sure you have your camera ready!

It is important to remember when in the National Park, you are entering these animals’ natural environment and they are WILD. Always keep your distance so as not to threaten or intimidate them and NEVER feed them. It is exciting to see animals in their own backyard but sometimes it’s best to experience them with the expertise of a professional. The Rundlestone Lodge can help you book a wildlife adventure to experience nature at its best!

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