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Wildlife of the Pass

May 19, 2020

The Pass is brimming with critters that call this richly biodiverse area home. From mountain goats to grizzly bears, and pygmy shrews to toads, every nook, cranny, creek and cave is teeming with wildlife. We’ve put together a shortlist of animals you might be able to spot on your next trip into the Pass, along with some tips if you encounter them, and local community initiatives that you can get involved in!


There are over 59 species of mammals in the Pass, including bears (both grizzlies and black), ungulates (elk, white-tailed deer, bighorn sheep and mountain goats), wolves, badgers, porcupines, foxes, beavers and more!

Did you know? Beavers are Canada’s largest rodent, and attained official status as a natural emblem on March 24, 1975.


In order to ensure the protection of the Pass’ wildlife populations, there are three main corridors, or linkage zones, that ensure safe passage for all of its furry inhabitants. These corridors are generally constructed over areas that are incredibly dangerous for animals to cross, like highways. As the Crowsnest Conservation Society states, “Preserving wildlife corridors…ensures that wildlife in the area have sufficient space to travel and access the benefits of their home range.”


If you’re travelling in bear country, it’s important to be “bear aware!”. The Crowsnest Pass BearSmart Association advises to travel in groups, pack away all garbage, and carry both noise makers and a deterrent, like bear spray. Visit their website for more tips on how to protect yourself (and our bears!).


The Pass has an incredibly diverse bird population. In 2019, volunteers participated in the Crowsnest Pass’ 14th annual spring bird count found 143 different bird species in the area, including mallard ducks, Canadian geese, burrowing owls, wild turkeys, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, red-tailed hawks, sandpipers, swallows, mountain bluebirds, finches, and blue jays!

Want to get involved? The Crowsnest Conservation Society “organizes activities throughout the year to offer residents and visitors to Crowsnest Pass opportunities to explore and enjoy our spectacular surroundings and to participate in stewardship events.” Click here to learn more!

Did you know? Peregrine falcons can dive at more than 300 km per hour, making them the fastest bird in the world!


The cold running streams and lakes of southern Alberta are home to a number of fish and amphibians, including boreal toads, salamanders, northern leopard frogs, a variety of trout, and pike.

Did you know? “Bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout were the first fish to recolonize western Canada after the last glaciation approximately 13,000 years ago. These threatened trout species are adapted to cool waters, and are viewed by fish ecologists as important indicators of the overall health of the headwater ecosystems.’’ – Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Southern Alberta Chapter


If you spot an injured or orphaned animal, never attempt to handle it as it can cause the animal extreme stress. The Government of Alberta advises to leave orphaned animals alone, as often times mothers will leave their young to look for food. If you fear for the animal’s safety, monitor it from a distance for 24 hours, and if the mother does not return, contact the nearest Fish and Wildlife office. If you find an injured animal, leave it be, and contact the nearest Fish and Wildlife office for advice.

Next time you’re in the Pass, be sure to bring an animal guide book—you can never be sure what you’ll snag a peek of!

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