The program's original study area was located in west-central Alberta, south of Highway 16 with the Brazeau River as its southern boundary. The study area encompassed 10,000 km2. In 2003, the Foothills Research Institute's Grizzly Bear Program began expanding its study area and by 2008 maps and models were available for the entire grizzly bear range in Alberta.
Habitat maps produced from satellite imagery represent the corner stone of our program. In addition, we require detailed grizzly bear movement data obtained from grizzly bears captured and fitted with GPS collars to create RSF (resource selection function) models that identify the probability of grizzly bear occurrence on the landscape. With these outputs we can then generate graph theory based grizzly bear movement corridor maps. When combined, these products represent the most important grizzly bear conservation tools available to land and resource managers who are faced with important decisions regarding land management in grizzly bear habitat.
Within the expanded study area, researchers are looking at habitat and landscape features linked to grizzly bear presence, persistence and health. We are also creating computer programs that allow land managers and developers to incorporate research results into land use planning. With funding from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, grizzly bear population estimates based on DNA-hair snag censuses are also being undertaken.