Grizzly Bears (Ursus arctos) are a threatened species in Alberta and are often considered to be an indicator of ecosystem health. Along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada, grizzly bears occupy a landscape highly influenced by recreation and industrial activities including forest harvesting, oil and gas exploration and extraction, and mining.
Over the past 18 years (1999-2017), the fRI Research Grizzly Bear Program (fRI GBP) has amassed the most comprehensive data set of grizzly bear data anywhere in North America. Historic collar data from fRI GBP has shown grizzly bears frequenting the quarry lands and the adjacent properties, including adjacent coal mines and the neighboring community of Cadomin. Recent international collaborative work by our research team has developed new noninvasive techniques that can be used to further our understanding of this species and to aid in monitoring efforts.
Our project intends to involve quarry employees and local high school students in noninvasive genetic sampling to identify individual grizzly bears using the quarry property. By combining genetic samples, retrieved from grizzly bear hair and scat, with existing data from fRI GBP’s historic collaring and tracking efforts within the area, we are confident that an accurate assessment of grizzly bear habitat use, movement, and survival on the quarry site can be examined.