Banff National Parks officials have announced that the west slope of Tunnel Mountain south of the Tunnel Mountain Trail will be closed until July due to Elk calving. 

According to officials, the west slopes of Tunnel Mountain are important calving grounds for elk, and the area is preferred due to relatively low levels of human use.

"This closure intends to reduce human/wildlife conflicts by providing secure habitat for female elk during the calving season, which typically occurs from May 15 to June 30," Parks Canada stated on its website. "Protective mothers will aggressively protect their newborns by charging and kicking at people. Serious injuries can occur."

All official trails in the surrounding area, including the Tunnel Mountain Trail, Surprise Corner, and the Bow River Trail, remain open.

trailBanff National Parks officials have announced that now until July, the west slope of Tunnel Mountain south of the Tunnel Mountain Trail has been closed. (Graphic credit to Parks Canada).

"Climbing access to the Black Band and Gonda Roof climbing is permitted as climbers can comply with the closure by using the descent outlined on the map from Gonda Roof routes." 

Officials are also reminding nature lovers that to avoid an elk encounter, there are safety tips to remember, including:
• Stay 30 meters away from all elk.
• Avoid lone female elk, they separate from the herd for calving and may have a calf hidden nearby.
• Walk on open roads rather than forest trails to avoid stumbling upon female elk or calves.
• Keep children within arm’s reach and always keep dogs on a leash.
• Travel in groups and carry a walking stick, pepper spray or umbrella.

If an encounter is not possible to avoid, it is important to act dominant if an elk gets too close and seek protection behind a tree or vehicle. Other tips include:
• Deploy bear spray if feasible.
• Raise your arms or flap a jacket to make yourself appear larger.
• Maintain eye contact and move away.
• Contact encounters are rare – if knocked down get up and move away. Do not play dead. 

Any incidents should be reported to the Resource Conservation office at 403-762-1470.

Earlier this month, officials instated a 'no-stopping zone' in the Bow Valley Parkway, between Baker Creek & Protection Mountain Campground, to protect both humans and grizzly bears frequenting the area.

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