BANFF, Alberta (Reuters) - Environmental activists experienced climate change first-hand on Sunday when their demonstration outside a major environment summit in the alpine town of Banff was buffeted by driving rain, then blinding sleet and snow within just a few minutes.
About 50 Greenpeace members and supporters, most dressed up as owls, began their 2 km (1.2 mile) march in the sunshine of downtown Banff to bring attention to what they called Canada's poor record on protecting its forests, the birds' habitat.
But notoriously unpredictable spring Rocky Mountain weather prevailed, battering hooting demonstrators with high winds and precipitation.
All were soaked to the bone by the time they arrived at the Banff Springs Hotel, where environment ministers from the Group of Eight richest nations were wrapping up two days of top-level meetings.
Despite the uncooperative weather in the picturesque resort town, spirits remained high.
"It's wonderful because we're still alive," said Mikhail Miller, a very damp spotted owl. The species is endangered and Greenpeace said it could disappear in western Canada within five years unless the country moves to protect its habitat.
Even security forces patrolling the G8 environment ministers meeting were impressed with the protesters.
"I think it's great, the level of commitment demonstrated here," Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Mike O'Rielly said. "It's pretty impressive on a lousy day like this."
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