How grizzly bears use habitat around trails

At the end of the day, I love it. All of it, even the hard bits. I’ve been waiting a long time to write this blog post… over 3 years in fact. The entire premise of my PhD has been to answer this central question – how do grizzly bears use habitat around hiking trails of various levels of human use in the Rocky Mountain National Parks? I can now share the answers I’ve found. Attempts to answer the question To investigate this question, I used 4 years of GPS collar data from 27

The first big reveal of 2014

Well with a title like that, I better reveal something big. So the big news of 2014 so far: It’s stopped snowing (for now at least). The last few weeks have been busy busy to say the least. Volunteers and I have put cameras up on many different trails in Banff National Park and have even started to take the first ones down. Cameras are only up for 21 days at a time before they get relocated and with over 50 cameras as part of this program, things are moving quickly. What I fo

Gettin’ Amped for another field season

Spring has SPRUNG! It’s March 21, the first bears in the Bow Valley have started to wake up and explore the valley bottoms and I have started to prepare for another field season. Seeing the video of the first bear out and about got me pretty excited about the summer that lay ahead, and just like last year I won’t be able to do it without the help of volunteers. Some things will be different for this year and others will be the same, either way it’s going to be another great s

The Brainstorm

Data Analysis Hell It’s where grad student go to cry – data analysis. Just saying it out loud makes me cringe. One of the things that makes data analysis so hard is deciding which statistical test to do. The specifics of my data dictate what approach should be taken and it’s easy enough to read a text book or look online to figure out what test looks like it will work. Then I run it in the stats program, and it comes up with a bunch of errors. Most of those errors don’t reall

Alberta Grizzlies and the SSRP

In my past life, I worked as the Senior Conservation Planner for the Southern Alberta chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. I spent much of time with CPAWS SAB working on reviewing and critiquing a regional land use plan focused on the southern third of Alberta. This regional plan is currently in the last phase of public consultation and input is welcome until February 28, 2014. While this isn’t an advocacy post, I just couldn’t resist sharing some thoughts on

Yellowstone and Banff

The open plateaus of Yellowstone make wildlife viewing completely different. Here we are watching wolves about 1.5Km away through spotting scopes. This past week, I finally visited Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming for the first time. WOW! It blew my mind. What an interesting place. In the past few years, there are many things that we’ve learned from Yellowstone when it comes to grizzly bear management and recovery. In that learning process, I’ve made some assumptions abou

Volunteer and play in the woods with me!

An example of a high human use trail that I could be sampling – Larch Valley Ok… It’s not all fun and games, but hopefully that title caught your attention. Most of the time research is conducted with scientists and assistants and results are published and shared with the scientific community. That works for some, but not for me. I believe that public participation in research is important for so many reasons. I think it’s great for people to have an opportunity to better und

Sleepy bears wake up to start another year

Photo provided by John Marriott (For more amazing images, check out John’s website is: As the snow begins to melt and the days get longer, grizzly bears in North America are waking up from hibernation and coming out of their dens. This time of year always makes me reflect a little on how amazing grizzly bears are. The magic of hibernation Grizzly bears are true hibernators. They don’t eat, drink, urinate, or defecate during hibernation.  Even

From mountain musings to a PhD

As I neared Ptarmigan Lake, a Park warden on horseback passed me and warned me of a female grizzly with two cubs near the halfway hut. I replied that I likely wouldn’t see her given all the people ahead of me on the trail. Still, it’s always good to know what’s out there and make sure you’re prepared. I thanked the warden and continued on my way. Many things run through a person’s mind when they are told there is a bear ahead on the trail: “Where’s my bear spray? Can I reach