Grizzly bears are a threatened species in Alberta, and while there has been a number of studies in the past on the effects of oil/gas and logging on the grizzlies, for the first time researchers are looking at the effects of quarrying, a Canadian newspaper has reported.
“We want to have a better understanding of the grizzly’s responses to industrial activity for future development and reclamation projects,” Anja Sorensen, a biologist at fRI Research, said.
The project will study the animal’s response to industrial activity based on how it uses a mined landscape.
Sorensen says grizzly bears love 'edge environments' such as along roads, clear cuts, and mines.
“When you start to break it down, old growth, you allow more light. It opens it up to a wider range of diversity of species. But there usually is more human access as well which can be negative for bears,” Sorensen said.
“It’s a balance of the edge.”
The Edson Leader reported the research was undertaken at the Cadomin Limestone Quarry where there is a rich assortment of dandelions, grasses, and clover – the grizzly bear’s favourites. However, there is limited public access and this lowers encounters between bears and humans.
Bait sites were set around the quarry in the northern hemisphere summer. A mixture of rotten cattle blood, mixed with oil to lure bears, was poured on tree branches and surrounded by barbed wire. The wire snagged hairs from the grizzlies for DNA analysis, tracking offspring and genetics.
The area around Cadomin is one of the only regions in the province where the grizzly bear population has been surveyed twice. In 2004, there were 36 grizzlies in the area. In 2014, there were 74. While the increase might seem encouraging, enforcement officers did relocate 30 bears to that area during that time period.
fRI Research hired four high school students to collect data, including hair for DNA testing while the quarry's employees helped by collecting bear scat and reporting bear sightings.
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