There are four families of carnivores: the weasel, dog, cat, and bear families. Dog family includes wolf and coyote. Cat family includes mountain lion/cougar and lynx. Bears inhabiting Alberta are the black bear and the larger grizzly bear.
Once common across the prairies, grizzly bears are now limited to the area surrounding the Rocky Mountains and forested areas in north-central and northwestern Alberta. They are bigger than the black bear with a large shoulder hump and are often light brown in colour. The best place to see a grizzly bear in Alberta is in the foothills and mountains in the Kananaskis, Canmore, Jasper, and Banff National Park areas.
Black bears are smaller than grizzly bears, normally with darker fur and straight rather than curved claws. They are more widespread than grizzly bears, living in forested areas. Please review the Alberta BearSmart guide.
The wolf is similar in appearance to a large German Shepherd, but is lankier with longer legs and larger feet. Its muzzle is larger and less pointed (less fox-like) than that of a coyote. Most wolves in Banff National Park are dark in colour, although colours do range from whitish-gray to black.
Two members of the cat family are found in Banff National Park. The largest of the two, and the largest Canadian cat, is the mountain lion or cougar. Although rarely seen, signs indicate that there is a small but healthy population of approximately 7-10 animals in the park.
With a dense silvery-brown coat, ruffed face and tufted ears, the Canada lynx resembles the other species of the mid-sized feline genus Lynx. It is slightly larger than the bobcat, with which it shares parts of its range, and over twice the size of the domestic cat.
Known as Num-ti-Jah in early people's local language, the Pine Marten is a long, slender-bodied weasel about the size of a mink with relatively large rounded ears, short limbs, and a bushy tail. Pine martens have a roughly triangular head and sharp nose. Their long, silky fur ranges in color from pale yellowish buff to tawny brown to almost black. Their head is usually lighter than the rest of their body, while the tail and legs are darker.