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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Banff-Bow Valley : environmental conflict, wildlife management and movement Dickmeyer, Laurie


The Banff-Bow Valley has been a site of environmental conflict since the creation of Banff National Park (BNP) in 1887. The study of national parks reveals what and how people conceive of nature. Wildlife management also reveals how people have thought about nonhumans throughout the history of the park. Initially, BNP was viewed as a health spa and in economic terms. This view expanded to include an appreciation for scenery and wild animals, which were considered “game” or “noxious” and “pests.” Science, attitudes and perceptions influenced management practices, and beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, ecological thinking gained prominence. At the same time, the environment and acceptable human use and development of the landscape became contentious issues. Parks Canada attempted to include public participation processes in their management planning but were mostly met with criticism. In 1994, conflicts over the doubling of the Trans Canada Highway (TCH) and threats to the park’s World Heritage status led the federal government to inaugurate the Banff-Bow Valley Study (BBVS), which was to assess, independently of Parks Canada, the state of the valley and provide management recommendations. The two-year, $2 million study determined that “ecological integrity” was being threatened by heavy human use. The study’s Task Force provided approximately 500 specific recommendations. This work describes the BBVS process, its public reception and Park Canada’s reaction to the Task Force’s findings. In conclusion, the topic of wildlife movement and corridors is explored further. This work asks how humans should live with wildlife in BNP, especially since some of these nonhuman animals are predators. Science cannot provide the answer to this question to make management decisions. Rather, we look to thinking on nonhuman movement in the social sciences, which point to a more flexible and respectful vision of human and nonhuman coexistence.

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