An fRI Research study is underway to determine the population of grizzly bears throughout Alberta. Grizzly bears are listed as a threatened species in the province, so it’s important to monitor their numbers to see if conservation efforts are working.
The Grizzly Bear Program gathers DNA from bears non-invasively by setting up “scent lures” surrounded by a strand of barbed wire. When curious bears investigate the smell, they rub against the wire and leave tufts of hair. We send this hair off to the lab for DNA analysis, which lets us identify individual bears and estimate the population size.
We’re deploying helicopter and truck crews to set up and monitor these sites during May, June, and July. Some of these sites are very remote, and all will be several hundred metres at least from trails, roads, and facilities. The immediate area will be cordoned off with caution tape and warning signs will be posted. The public are asked, for their safety, to not get too close to the scent lures, and to take a little extra caution in the area.
While this research does not pose any particular risk to the public, it’s always important to stay BearSmart. When enjoying the outdoors, carry bear spray, make noise, and stay alert. Because there are no actual food attractants, the bears are not likely to keep returning to the area once the sites are taken down.
We expect lab results by early 2019, and we can then crunch the numbers and write up the results for later that year.
About the fRI Research Grizzly Bear Program
The Grizzly Bear Program has been monitoring populations and doing world class research on grizzly bears for the past 20 years. In 2014 we carried out the first re-survey of all of Bear Management Area 3 plus the northern half of Jasper National Park.
fRI Research is a not-for-profit research institute founded in 1992. We have studied everything from history and socio-economics to fish, fire, and forestry. Today we have active research programs for caribou, grizzly bears, landscape-scale disturbances, mountain pine beetle, and watersheds.