Wildlife Safety

Grasslands National Park

Canada’s national parks are gateways to nature, adventure and discovery. The chance to observe wildlife as they go about their natural lives is one of the most fascinating experiences that Canada’s national parks offer. Along with this opportunity, however, comes the responsibility to treat wildlife with the respect they deserve and need.

Maintaining healthy boundaries between people and wildlife results in improved safety for both visitors and wildlife.

Give wildlife their space and respect. Do not approach or feed.

Prairie Rattlesnakes
  • Wear over-the-ankle footwear and long pants to protect against snake bites
  • Watch where you walk and keep children close – you may not hear the rattle
  • Stay calm and slowly move away if you see or hear a rattlesnake
  • Know that snakes will only strike when threatened or cornered
  • Consider borrowing snake gaiters for your personal comfort
  • Contact the Visitor Centre regarding snake hibernaculum restrictions
First aid for snake bites:
  • Call for help
  • Keep the casualty calm, place at rest in a semi sitting position, avoid exertion or any activity that will accelerate blood flow and increase the spread of venom,
  • Identify the bite site
  • Immobilize affected limb and keep it below heart level, and flush bite site with soapy water if available.
  • Do not apply tourniquet, cold compresses or ice.
  • Do not cut the puncture marks or suction the bite site.
  • Medical facilities in the vicinity of the park stock antivenom. Transport patient to one of these facilities immediately.

Remember that Bison are wild animals – and, as the herd grows, visitor encounters will increase. Your best protection is to maintain a safe distance of 100 metres or more. Getting too close is wildlife harassment at the least, and life threatening at the most.

  • If encountering Bison during your drive, stay in your vehicle, drive slow and do not honk
  • Use caution when cycling, horseback riding or hiking (especially with pets) – maintain that 100 metre distance (length of a football field)
  • Remember that Bison are more aggressive during calving (May) and rutting (mid-July – August)

Watch for These Signs of Bison Aggression:

  • Shaking their head
  • Pawing
  • Short charges or running toward you
  • Loud snorting
  • Raising the tail
Prairie Dog Visits
  • Know that fleas from wild rodents such as Prairie Dogs may transmit diseases
  • Keep pets away from Prairie Dog towns – for their safety and yours
  • Tuck pants into socks and use insect repellent with DEET
  • Beware of black widow spiders and fleas, especially in prairie dog burrows
  • Don’t handle deceased wildlife! If possible, report to park staff (photos and location appreciated)
Insect Bites
  • Mosquitoes: in this area may spread the West Nile Virus.
  • Ticks: have the potential to spread Lyme disease.
  • Fleas: found on prairie dog colonies have the potential to spread sylvatic plague.
  • Black widow spiders: are poisonous spiders found in burrows.

To prevent insect bites:

  • Wear insect repellent with DEET around feet, ankles, legs, arms and upper body.
  • Avoid placing hands into burrows.
  • Tuck in pant cuffs to lessen the chance of contact.
Wildlife photography

Please treat the landscape and its inhabitants with respect; stay on established trails to avoid trampling vegetation and always give wildlife plenty of space. Photographers who travel the park in search of good photo opportunities have a special responsibility to wildlife and fellow visitors.The following guidelines will help you be a good park steward.

  • Do not surround, crowd or follow an animal.
  • Never put people (especially children) at risk by posing them with wildlife.
  • Do not stalk or pursue wildlife.
  • Do not try to entice wildlife by feeding or by simulating animal calls

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