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The work carries on, even without me (phew!)

For the past 5 weeks I’ve been on medical leave. My sore and tired back that I’ve been struggling with all summer gave up one day at the end of August. I woke up and couldn’t walk, sit, or stand. What I could do was lay on my couch or the living room floor. For any of you who have ever had a lower back disc injury, you’ll understand when I say this has been the most pain I’ve experienced in my life. Now that I’m able to sit for almost three hours (!) and stand for nearly two

Takin’ It To The People

Several times this spring, I have presented my research results at conferences and meetings with Parks Canada staff. Every presentation I do is a little different. Sometimes I’m nervous, sometimes I’m not. Sometimes the questions are good, and sometimes they aren’t. To be honest though, the presentations I like the most are the public presentations and there is one coming up in Calgary. You should come! Why I love talking to the public People are using bear habitat all the ti

Third Time’s a Charm

There might be a little snow when we get started, but that’s part of the fun! It’s nearly April and time to start gearing up for Field Season 2015. I’m so excited for the summer that lay ahead and am going to take advantage of every wonderful moment in the field this year… especially since it’s the last field season of my PhD. I’m amazed at how fast the time has gone by and am so ready to get away from this computer and have some more magical moments in the wilderness. As wit

Bears go to bed and I go to the beach

Good night little critters! Sleep tight!!! The field season is finally over. The last cameras came down on October 17, the visitor surveys were done at the end of September. The gear has been cleaned, inventoried, and packed away for the winter. The bears have moved to their dens, and I’ve relocated to Australia for a winter on the beach… I mean, working hard on my analysis and writing. There may or may not be beach involved. Since the field season ended, I’ve been busy with

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 electronic grizzly bear

Maybe one of my favourite parts is just trying to figure out the best place to put a camera to get as much wildlife action as possible. It makes my imagination go in to overdrive. As a bear biologist, I’ll admit that I love the field work the most. Working in the woods all day, setting up remote cameras, looking for bear sign, and talking to visitors. Even when I don’t see a bear, which is most of the time, it’s just fantastic to be out there. But as the bears go in to their

Bear-ly Scared

One of the things I love about bears is witnessing how smart they are. Bears are capable of making decisions by weighing stimulus and thinking about what to do next. I feel blessed that I’ve been able to witness how gentle, curious, interesting, and dexterous these animals really can be. Last week, I was reminded that a grizzly bear can also be an intimidating and strong force to face in the wilderness. The Encounter Last week, three volunteers and I were putting up remote ca

We’re supposed to work in the woods… not get lost in the woods… oops!

After months of planning, applying, and training a suite of awesome volunteers, I started field work this week. It felt great just to be outside and not trapped behind my desk all day. I was starting to feel like I wasn’t doing research, just sitting around and planning to do research. This week it all came together and we began. In most scientific studies, it’s important to have a bit of a pilot season. This pilot season helps you work out the kinks before the real data coll

Putting the wheels in motion

Phew! It’s been an interesting few weeks and I have learned that one thing a PhD needs is flexibility while at the same time being scientifically rigorous. Science doesn’t usually embrace flexibility, but planning the logistics of a field season require you to be flexible and adaptable. I’ve been walking an interesting line. Flexible field scheduling The Great Flood of 2013 changed things out there… a lot. Many back country bridges are washed out and several trails are now bl