Wildlife and Recreation in Southwestern Alberta

Public land along Alberta's southeastern slopes is valued by a range of user groups including industrial and recreational interests. At the same time, public lands provide ecological goods and services, including important wildlife habitat. The presence of roads and trails that facilitate access on public land has the potential to affect the habitat availability and effectiveness for many species of wildlife. This project is examining the complex relationships between wildlife and human use of this landscape.

Since 2004 the project has used remote cameras that automatically capture images of any person or animal using trails through a 1200 km2 region of public land. This innovative approach provides the opportunity to non-invasively examine the relationships between wildlife and human use in this landscape. Four summer field seasons have resulted in 1066, 14 day sampling periods including over 424,000 hours of camera operation. Preliminary results include over 6574 unique wildlife events, including 484 large carnivore detections. Detected wildlife species include grizzly bear, black bear, cougar, wolf, bobcat, lynx, wolverine, coyote, moose, elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer. Cameras have detected 10473 human events on recreational trails with 9083 (86.7%) of these being motorized use.

In 2008 Dave Garrow, a student from the Faculty of Environmental Design completed a graduate degree project related to this research, and another student, Rachelle Haddock is currently completing another. Results will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and will be provided to regional managers and user groups to assist in the development of access management.


This project was funded by: the University of Calgary - Faculty of Environmental Design, Woodcock Foundation, Alberta Conservation Association, Suncor Energy Foundation, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and Wilburforce Foundation

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