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003 Citizen Science, Bear 148’s Wanderings, Icefields Bike Trail and Book Review

Learn how you can contribute to mountain research. Follow bear 148 as she explores her turf. Jasper announces Icefields Bike Trail and a book review of unique wildlife images.

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Story 1 – Citizen Science

If you regularly find your way high into the Alpine, why not help out scientific research taking place in the Rockies. The High Elevation Localized Species (or HELS) initiative is designed to keep real-time records of sightings of hoary marmots, mountain goats, pikas and white-tailed ptarmigan.

Each of these animals are alpine specialists and so it can be difficult to collect ongoing date simply due to the remote and often widely separated locations that these animals call home. By crowdsourcing sightings from those of us that like to play in the mountains on a regular basis they can begin to gain a much clearer understanding of their range, behaviour, movement and population.

Participating in the program is easy. Head to http://www.BowValleyNaturalists.org and follow the links to the HELS reporting area. You’ll simply be asked to register followed by a simple reporting process. Important information includes the species, number of individuals, any details of the sighting and the location. If you don’t have gps coordinates (as most of us won’t), you can pinpoint your location on a digital topographic map.

Story 2 – Bear 148’s Wanderings

Bear 64 was one of the greatest bears of the past several decades. She called the town of Banff home and helped scientists learn more about the use of wildlife over and underpasses as well as the bears use of important seasonal foods. She passed away in 2014 and now her female cub, bear 148 has taken over her territory with gusto. Recently she took to exploring her home and decided to take a bit of a walkabout. She travelled east along the Trans Canada Highway all the way to Canmore, and after passing the Legacy Trail on the highway (and causing a brief closure), she headed up to the Spray Valley and wandered all the way to the south end of Spray Lakes Reservoir. After turning north, she made a beeline back to the town of Banff covering the distance in just 20 hours.

Now that it’s buffaloberry season, she’ll be looking for good patches to spend the next month or so until the first frost of autumn brings the berry season to an end. If you’re travelling the trails in and around the Bow Valley be sure to make lots of noise. When bears are feeding on these berries they are completely focused on feeding and may not hear your approach. It’s up to you to be vigilant for the both of you. Leave your ear buds at home and be sure to have bear spray on your belt and know how to use it.

Over the past two days there have been two bear attacks, one near Cochrane and a second today near Canmore. The bears are on the trails and because the buffaloberries need sunlight to grow, they line our low elevation trails. If you haven’t listened to episode 1, check it out as we talk in great depth about the importance of these important berries.

Story 3 – We’re Off to See The Icefields…By Bike!

Jasper National Park has announced a 66 million dollar plan to build a paved bike path from the town of Jasper all the way to the Columbia Icefields. This trail would use portions of the original highway as well as paralleling the current road as it winds its way uphill toward the glaciers. The plan has received mixed reviews with cyclists applauding it and environmentalists warning of the loss of habitat as well as the potential for increased traffic along this important wildlife corridor. This is a difficult story since the environmental impact would be very high but at the same time the highway is becoming more and more dangerous for cyclists to take the risk. This is a story that we’ll be watching unfold for some time and Parks has yet to reveal all of the details of the proposed trail.

Story 4 – Book Report

I love images taken from camera traps. You know the ones, where researchers have set up special cameras that are triggered by movement so that they catch wildlife unaware. They are critical for studying very wary animals and have been used in every corner of the globe. There are some awesome local videos produced by using these cameras as well. Glenn Naylor of Kananaskis Country did this amazing video in Kananaskis by monitoring a scent tree used by bears: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AihvuZiDhsg. Jasper National Park has also produced a series which you can watch here: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/jasper/ne/prissurlevif-caughtintheact.aspx.

Now back to our book. Biologist Roland Kays of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences has used camera traps for years in his work. Recently he realized that he was not the only biologist with a ‘greatest hits’ folder on his computer. He began to reach out to other biologists to see if they might be willing to share some of their best images as well. The result is a fabulous book called: Candid Creatures: How Camera Traps Reveal the Mysteries of Nature, looks at the history, the techniques and the humour related to using camera traps. The images reveal a world that is hidden to humans and in many cases reveal behaviours not previously observed.

Why not pick up a copy at Amazon.ca. You can buy it from this link: http://amzn.to/2awoLi7. By purchasing the book from this link you are helping to support the show.

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