The aim of the campaign is to protect wildlife throughout the Bow Valley.
Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen said officials have noticed an increase in unrestrained dogs in Banff lately and experienced a busy spring in terms of cougar activity.
“Many people when they visit — and even our residents — tend to, when they feel their dog is secure beside them, they do let it off-leash in a public place or in a park.”
“It simply isn’t allowed.”
“We’re really trying to deter from that.”
Even the most obedient dogs may harass wildlife to protect their humans, officials warned.
Sorensen said off-leash dogs can cause unwanted attention from animals, triggering aggressive behaviour in bears, coyotes, cougars and elk.
“It can attract the wildlife to you,” she said. “It can be dangerous for you and your pet.”
“Wildlife probably don’t want to approach you, but if you give them a reason to approach you — or if a dog, for instance, is aggressive towards wildlife — they will attack.”
A bear, cougar or coyote made aggressive by a roaming dog may have to be relocated away from its home or even euthanized, Sorensen warned.
“It can cause the wildlife to be destroyed if they attack a dog or some other living thing.”
“We all love our pets, and the smartest way to show them your love in a national park and in the town of Banff is to leash them and keep them under control,” Sorensen said.
The campaign has been in the works for about three years and is a collaboration between the Town of Banff, the Town of Canmore and Alberta Parks.
Banff’s municipal enforcement staff will be handing out special dog leashes for owners who forget to leash their dogs in the next month, instead of issuing the town’s $100 fine.
In Banff National Park the maximum fine for disturbing wildlife is $25,000.