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June 4th, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 22
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Social Media for the Bear World?
Head To Your Local Rub Tree!
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
CROWSNEST CONSERVATION SOCIETY
Submitted Story
Ever wonder why your dog is so interested in that particular tree on your favourite trail? Perhaps it is a rub tree!
Use of rub trees (or even fence posts, telephone poles, and sign posts) by bears is well established, but other wildlife species ranging from porcupine and deer to large carnivores such as wolverine and lynx also utilize these rub objects. Just as Facebook allows people a quick way to catch up on the comings and goings of their friends, scent and hair left on rub trees allows wildlife a quick way to glean potential information about the species, age, sex, breeding status, or interval since last passing of other animals that might be in the area.
Mike Gibeau and Cam McTavish, biologists in Banff, captured trail camera images of 12 different species rubbing, biting bark, scratching the ground, urinating, or defecating on or near these communication hubs. Researchers in Montana and more recently in southern Alberta have begun to exploit this natural rubbing behaviour at traditional rub objects as a way to non-invasively obtain bear hair samples for DNA analysis.
Beginning in 2014, Crowsnest Conservation Society will partner with Alberta Conservation Association to help identify and repeatedly visit rub objects used by grizzly and black bears south of the Oldman River drainage. Hair samples collected at these rub trees will ultimately be used to determine the status of grizzly bear populations north of Highway 3.
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An afternoon information session will be held on Saturday, June 14 where the public is invited to learn first-hand from local biologists why bears use rub trees, how to identify rub trees when hiking, camping, fishing, etc., and explore volunteer opportunities with this upcoming project. The session will run 1:00-4:00pm at the Allison/Chinook Provincial Recreation Area and will involve some light hiking to view known rub trees. For more information, contact Elizabeth at 403-563-0058.
As bear season is now in full swing, remember to remove or securely store any potential attractants in your yard (e.g., garbage, birdseed, pet food), employ BearSmart practices when out in the bush, and report any bear sightings in town to Fish and Wildlife at 403-562-3289. Crowsnest Conservation BearSmart continues to offer bear-resistant garbage bin demos to residents who have had a bear-in-garbage conflict or those wishing to try a bin before purchasing. Details about BearSmart practices and other programs such as the indoor composter loans, bear briefs, apple tree swap, apple network, and educational bear- or attractant-related workshops can be found at www.crowsnestconservation.ca
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June 4th ~ Vol. 84 No. 22
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