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Bragg Creek residents investigate identifying area as critical wildlife corridor

BRAGG CREEK— Calling on Bragg Creek residents to find a balance between growth and respecting wildlife, a group is encouraging the area be identified as a critical wildlife corridor.
A deer takes a break from grazing north of Bragg Creek to give its nose a scratch. Ben Sherick/Rocky View Publishing

BRAGG CREEK— Calling on Bragg Creek residents to find a balance between growth and respecting wildlife, a group is encouraging the area 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, said resident Renée Delorme. The designation matches the philosophy of the Bragg Creek community, serves as a way to educate the public about wildlife, and can inform residents and visitors that there is a collective responsibility to keep the areas human and animal residents safe.

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.

“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.”

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 wild quiet oasis has become increasingly busy with human visitors.

This year alone the community saw 900 cars come into West Bragg Creek on slower days, 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 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 of Bragg Creek, they need to start putting measures in place that will ensure the balance with nature is maintained, Delorme said.

Establishing a wildlife corridor will be done carefully, she added to ensure that no one feels like they are being chased away from the community. 

“It’s about promoting safety … 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,” Delorme said. 

Bragg Creek sits on the bank of the Elbow River, she 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 remaining 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 sharing with 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, I’ve seen my fair share of killing in action while walking along the road,” Delorme said. 

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 unpack 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.

They are 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 is hoping to work with outdoor recreation associations in the community like trail and mountain bike and cross country because they are the groups directly interacting 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.”

Chelsea Kemp

About the Author: Chelsea Kemp

Chelsea Kemp joined the Cochrane Eagle in 2020 as editor, bringing with her experience as a reporter and photojournalist. She writes about politics, health care, arts and entertainment and Indigenous stories.
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