Calling on Bragg Creek residents to find a balance between growth and respecting wildlife, a local group hopes the area will be identified as a critical wildlife corridor.
Designating the Bragg Creek area as a wildlife corridor seems like the next logical step for the community, according to resident Renée Delorme. The designation matches the philosophy of the hamlet, serves as a way to educate the public about wildlife and can inform residents and visitors there is a collective responsibility to keep the area's human and animal residents safe.
“It’s a way to ensure that we’re not loving to death this area,” Delorme said. “Soon we'll be looking at a lot more issues coming forward.”
The Alberta Wildlife Watch program recently identified the community as an area with a very high animal-vehicle collision rate. Delorme said the increased traffic in Bragg Creek is only exacerbating the issue.
Identifying the area as a wildlife corridor and working with Rocky View County will allow local stakeholders to raise awareness on steps to reduce animal mortality and human-animal conflict.
Delorme has lived in West Bragg Creek since 1998. In that time, the popularity of the area has grown exponentially, and what was once a quiet wilderness oasis has become increasingly busy with human visitors.
The community saw 900 cars come into West Bragg Creek on slower days this year alone, Delorme said. On a busy day, the area can see more than 2,500 cars.
“Over time it has created so many kinds of issues,” Delorme said. “Not only in West Bragg Creek but for the hamlet itself and for Redwood [Meadows] and other areas.”
While the Bragg Creek community has co-existed with wildlife for many years, Delorme said the relationship with animals has grown more complicated as the community develops and traffic increases.
If the community wants to maintain the original vision for Bragg Creek, it needs to start putting measures in place that will ensure the balance with nature is maintained, she said.
Establishing a wildlife corridor will be done carefully to ensure that no one feels like they are being chased away from the community, she added.
“It’s about promoting safety,” Delorme said. “It’s about promoting good habits in the house you live with wildlife, and it’s about inviting all the stakeholders…to get involved and promote this concept.”
Bragg Creek sits on the bank of the Elbow River, Delorme said, and is a crucial wildlife corridor. She noted the river is connected to the Canmore area, which has been designated a wildlife corridor.
The importance of wildlife corridors running from Yellowstone National Park to the Yukon has been documented by the non-profit organization Y2Y. The purpose of Y2Y is to help preserve one of the most pristine areas in the world.
“The area that we are in is completely within the border of what they have designated the Y2Y corridor,” Delorme said. “It is a zone where several corridors exist and connectivity exists.”
The Bragg Creek area has interesting aspects that have environmental significance and significant wildlife biodiversity, Delorme said.
The main goal of investigating the creation of a wildlife corridor in the community is education and teaching people how to live in harmony with wildlife.
Delorme was inspired to launch the initiative after witnessing a number of collisions between vehicles and wildlife.
“I’ve seen my fair share of dead animals,” she said. “I’ve seen my fair share of killing in action while walking along the road."
The tipping point, she said, was when she came across a “beautiful buck” that had been killed in a collision lying across the Canadian Trail walking path beside West Bragg Creek road.
“Not only is it dangerous for the animals, but it’s dangerous for the drivers. It’s dangerous for the local residents,” Delorme said. “We truly live in a rich area and my hope is that we keep it that way. With a bit of common sense, we can. We can find a balance between everyone who lives and enjoys and works here and wildlife.”
Delorme recently hosted an information meeting to learn how the community feels about steps that can be taken to declare the community a wildlife corridor. The big take away was the need to flesh out the concept.
The community is hoping to learn more about biodiversity in the area and sit down together to decide how to approach mitigation strategies that could be put in place to allow people and wildlife to live in harmony.
Delorme hopes to work with outdoor recreation associations in the community – like trail and mountain bike and cross country groups – because they directly interact with visitors to the community. The organizations serve as a good way to connect with visitors to report on wildlife and share tips on mitigating interactions.
“So far the concept has been really well received,” Delorme said. “We’re just trying to figure out a way to unfold this concept to the community in the way that will really get people energized and excited.”