Grizzly Bear Monitoring Project
The Southwest Alberta Grizzly Bear Monitoring Project (GBMP) was initiated in 2011, and is a joint effort between the University of Alberta, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Parks Canada, and Alberta Parks. The overall goal of the program is to provide updated information of grizzly bear density and abundance within southwestern Alberta. The project analyses DNA extracted from bear hair samples collected from bear rub objects, fence crossings, and other opportunistic sampling locations (e.g. grain bins, conflict locations, etc.). This non-invasive method provides cost savings over traditional monitoring methods (i.e. radiocollaring), is safe for personnel and wildlife, and provides a long-term collaborative monitoring framework for grizzly bears. Further results and information can be found on the GBMP website.
Reducing Large Carnivore Attractants
Restricting access to attractants can significantly reduce carnivore-human conflicts. In southwestern Alberta, the primary agricultural attractants include dead livestock (deadstock), granaries, bee yards, livestock, and calving areas. In order to decrease conflicts with large carnivores, the Carnivores and Communities program provides support to activities designed to remove or reduce carnivore attractants. Current attractant management projects include removing dead livestock from the landscape, making grain and feed storage facilities more secure, and installing electric fencing to keep carnivores away from other attractants. The Carnivores and Communities program has also produced three technical guides designed to support landowner efforts to reduce conflicts with large carnivores.
Black Bear Monitoring in Southwestern Alberta
In collaboration with the GBMP, a new Black Bear Monitoring Project has been initiated in southwestern Alberta by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (AESRD), Parks Canada, Alberta Parks, The University of Alberta, and the Waterton Biosphere Reserve. The project will use hair samples already collected during the GBMP, whose study area extends north to Hwy 3, west to the B.C. border, south to the U.S. border, and east to the extent of grizzly bear range. DNA extracted from hair follicles will be used to identify if a hair sample is from a black or grizzly bear, if it is from a male or female, and to assign an individual genetic identity. Non-invasive genetic methods, such as these, are a cost-efficient alternative to trapping and collaring bears, and allow identification of individual black bears to generate a population and density estimate for the region.
Revised Carnivore Compensation Program
Even with the implementation of attractant management efforts, large carnivores will still sometimes kill livestock. While some death loss is an acknowledged part of raising livestock, livestock losses to predators in southwestern Alberta represent a significant financial burden to producers. The Alberta Wildlife Predator Compensation Program provides monetary compensation for cattle, sheep, bison, swine and goats injured or killed by wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, cougars and eagles. After discussion with producers, the WBR Carnivore Working Group (CWG) initiated a project in 2012 to expand the review of compensation programs completed by the Miistakis Institute in 2011 and develop a proposal for a revised carnivore compensation program for southwestern Alberta. The project resulted in two reports Report 1: Summary of Carnivore Compensation Programs and Report 2: Proposed Amendments to the Alberta Wildlife Predator Compensation Program. In January of 2013, the CWG submitted the two reports to the Alberta Government and has requested the opportunity to discuss how the proposed changes can be implemented on a pilot basis within the municipalities of Ranchland, Willow Creek, Pincher Creek and Cardston.
For more information on Carnivores and Communities please visit the Waterton Biosphere Reserve website.