Area around Tunnel Mountain closed due to cougar activity

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Parks Canada is once again warning visitors to the Banff National Park of hunting cougars in the area that could pose a threat to human safety.

Earlier in the month, a cougar had displayed aggressive behaviour to a dog walker in the Town of Banff, prompting a warning from Parks Canada and ultimately, the euthanization of the cougar who they said was sick.

On Monday, Parks issued a new closure notice for the area around Tunnel Mountain and east of Tunnel Mountain to the Hoodoo Trailhead. Many trails remain open including the Tunnel Mountain summit trail, Tunnel Mountain Road, Surprise Corner to Hoodoos and the trail parallel to Tunnel Mountain Road.

Parks Canada issued a closure for the Tunnel Mountain area in Banff National Park on Jan. 25, 2021, due to cougars in the area. Trails in green remain open and all those not listed are closed until March 31. Photo by Supplied image/ Parks Canada

Parks Canada said the closure, which will be in effect until March 31, is meant to “secure habitat for cougars hunting in the area during the winter months, in an effort to maintain the naturally wary behaviour of these secretive predators.”

Hikers can keep themselves safe by travelling in groups, exercising caution when travelling during dawn and dusk, remaining alert and travelling slowly if cycling or jogging.

Visitors are reminded to always carry bear spray, keep dogs on a leash at all times and leave an area immediately if you see or smell a dead animal.

Specific to cougars, Parks Canada says it’s important to face the animal and retreat slowly.

“Giving cougars the space they need to successfully hunt and consume their kills contributed to health cougar populations and reduces human-wildlife conflict potential,” the closure notice states.

ocondon@postmedia.com

Twitter: oliviacondon

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