I’m not a wildlife photographer. I leave that to experts such as Wayne Lynch and John Marriott. But the amount of time I spend in the Canadian Rockies has allowed me many wildlife experiences. Most of these are memorable for the sheer exhilaration of seeing magnificent animals in the wild—paddleboarding with loons, having a game of golf delayed by a grizzly bear, or encountering a curious wolf in the backcountry.

A recent wildlife experience was very different from most—exhilarating, yes. But also disappointing. Parks Canada has rebuilt their catwalks through Johnston Canyon and I headed up to see them earlier this month. Upon entering the empty parking lot, I spied wolves feasting on trash, which they had scattered across the snow. Apparently, garbage had been discarded in open work bins from catwalk construction and (it is assumed) crows got into the garbage and lifted in out of the bins and onto the parking lot. As I drove closer, and stopped over the top of the trash, the wolves moved away, but they began circling my vehicle, not at all perturbed by my presence. I called Banff dispatch (403/762-1470, if you ever need the number) and their wildlife experts were quickly on the scene. But as you can read in John Marriott’s blog post, the incident had far-reaching consequences for the local wolf population. The original Calgary Herald article is here. My version of events as told to CBC is here.

UPDATE: In 2019, Parks Canada began using images from my encounter in their visitor safety literature, including on sandwich boards placed at day use areas through Banff National Park (below).