• GRR's blog

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 with all my field seasons, I’m looking for volunteers! Volunteers like you! Things will be a little different this year, so read on if you’re interested in helping out.

The Field Season Plan

This year the field season will run from May 1 to August 15 and will focus on remote cameras only. The visitor surveys have been done, analysed, and written up (thanks to all those that helped with that). The plan is pretty similar to last year, cameras will go up on randomly selected trails for 21 days at a time – cameras go up, cameras come down, we download all the images, and cameras go up again. The sampling schedule has already been created and I can tell you that we are in for a great summer! There are some great day hikes and overnights on the schedule. A couple of the overnights are in the back country and there are a few 4 day back-country trips as well. Cameras will be going up in Banff, Kootenay, and Yoho National Parks.

As per last year, all volunteers working on remote cameras will have to attend a mandatory training session. This includes return volunteers as well. This training session will be at the end of April at the Cave and Basin in Banff. The training session provides instruction in how to set up cameras and find them again while also ensuring consistency in data collection. It’s also a great opportunity for me and other returning volunteers to share some lessons learned with new volunteers.

I’m asking people to volunteer to work on average 4 days per month. Asking for a minimum time commitment helps to keep the project running smoothly. If you want to volunteer but don’t think you can meet that commitment, then discuss it with me and we can perhaps figure something out.

The camera work is fun and a great way to experience our National Parks. I hope to see you out there!

Field work will take us to some remote part of the Parks again this year – but there are some popular trails on the list too!

Data Entry Volunteers

One thing I’ve learned with this project is that these cameras generate a phenomenal amount of data. Volunteers are needed to help with data entry, or classifying all of the images that come from the cameras. It goes faster if we all work together!

The data entry is pretty interesting because you never know what you’re going to find on camera – elk, wolves, cougars, and of course bears!

All volunteers working with data entry need to sign a confidentiality agreement and undergo a one on one training session that takes about an hour. It’s a great way to participate in the project if you’re not able to hike too much or too often or if you want a little more flexibility as to when you participate in this project.

Data entry is underway now and I can get you set up as soon as it works for both of us. All of the data needs to be entered by the end of September this year, so it’ll be happening throughout the spring and summer.

Wanna Play?

I’m looking for people to play in the woods with me and do some data entry. If you want to participate, please email me at with the following information:

  1. Which team you want to play on – remote cameras, data entry, or both

  2. How often you think you might be able to participate

  3. If doing data entry, let me know when you can start (anytime after April 1 works for me)

  4. Share any other expectations you might have for your volunteer experience

Please feel free to share this blog post around your friends and family – they’re always welcome to come and help out too.

If you want to learn a bit more about this research, check out the other blog posts or this piece from Alberta PrimeTime that aired last summer:

Thanks so much! I look forward to meeting you and sharing in another successful field season!

Happy trails!

At the end of the day, I love it. All of it, even the hard bits.

#grizzlybearresearch #PhDresearch #grizzlybear #backcountryhiking #ParksCanada #dataanalysis #grizzlybears #Albertagrizzlybear #backcountrycamping #wildlifebehaviourresearch #remotecameras #BanffNationalPark #canmorecommunity #hiking #datacollection #datamanagement #YohoNationalPark #volunteers

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