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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Friday, February 3, 2012

U. of Alberta biology student Sarah Rovang is conducting an Alberta, Canada Grizzly Bear study in the hopes of helping the Province increase the population(roughly 700 bears remain) of the "threatened" bruin .........Rovang does not believe in invasive capture and release analysis but prefers the less invasive and less costly "hair snag" DNA testing procedure and has designed a barbed wire corral that she baits with beef blood, canola oil, logs and moss...........

Local works to improve grizzly research

By Paul Grigaitis;

A graduate of Edson's Parkland Composite High School is now analyzing grizzly bear DNA collected using a method she hopes to prove will save conservation groups and government money.
Sarah Rovang, now a masters student studying conservation biology at the University of Alberta, worked in the Hinton, Robb and Cadomin areas throughout the summer collecting hair from grizzly bears using barbed-wire corrals baited with rancid beef blood mixed with canola oil, logs and moss.
The data is used to determine what is happening with the grizzly bear population in Alberta. In 2010, the Alberta government designated the grizzly bear as a threatened species under Alberta's Wildlife Act.

Rovang tells the Leader that the population of grizzly bears in Alberta is in its hundreds.
"We really don't know since then if the population has been increasing or decreasing or remaining constant. That's pretty important to know when you are trying to make conservation or management decisions. So we really would like to know that," she said.

Collecting hair snags for DNA is not new. It is considered less invasive than drugging, capturing and collaring animals. However, the practice has been to use mobile plots, Rovang explained, which is costly because it uses expensive equipment such as helicopters.

"The research that was done before to get those estimates kind of required substantial resources – time and money. You can't just go out and do the same thing and to get information. So to understand what the population is doing, we had to kind of take a step back and try a cost-effective way to monitor."

Rovang believes a fixed method of gathering DNA samples could be just as effective but less costly.
"To come up with those initial estimates they did use a hair snag method similar to mine but they had mobile plots where they would set up hair snags, they would detect a grizzly bear, or not maybe, but they would check that site and then take it down and they would move it somewhere else and they would just keep doing that –setting them up and taking them down. That's pretty effort intensive and costly. So I was testing this modified hair snag method where we just had a network of permanent plots."

The challenge is making sure the permanent plots are well placed, she explained. She said she would compare her data with previous research to determine if there is some money to be saved. Rovang had collected 664 tufts of hair through the summer.

"We're hoping to investigate kind of a trade off between the monitoring costs and how well we detected grizzly bears. We're trying to figure out what time of year is best to do it and where exactly we should be placing these relative to habitat and answering those types of questions. Hopefully, these results can kind of form the basis for a cost-effective and long-term monitoring program."
Rovang worked out of the Foothills Research Institute in Hinton during the summer. Gordon Stenhouse is a research scientist and leader of the grizzly bear program at the Foothills Research Institute.

He said the estimated population of grizzly bears in Alberta in 2010 was about 730. He said the biggest threat to the grizzly bears population is human contact."Biologists for the most part agree that the current population size and status is a direct result of excessive human caused mortalities – bears dying at the hands of people."

He said Rovang's work is important in understanding the trends in grizzly bear populations.
"Her work ties directly into the management of this species in the province," Stenhouse said.
Rovang is 22 years old. She graduated from Parkland Composite High School in 2007 and has since earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in conservation biology from the University of Alberta. This is her first year as a masters student.

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