Time for another update of my adventures in Canada, this time a bit more about the camera trapping itself.
During the project we place camera traps at random locations and half of them we move every 20 days, so we started rotating some of the cameras and could have a look at some nice pictures.
A day of cameratrap stories & a wolf sighting
One day was kind of great. We started the day with picking up a camera and during the walk to the camera I noticed already some wolf prints, so I was quite excited to see the pictures… and of course, lots of wolves running around in the area, but it even got better, at a certain point 2 wolves started howling in front of the camera! These were awesome pictures. Too bad I’m not allowed to spread pictures around the world wide web (for the moment). And we could see on the pictures a wolf had passed by last night, so the prints I found were probably from this wolf.
After this awesome set of pictures, we had to cross a river to get to another camera… On this camera, we had a female grizzly bear with 3 small cubs, cuteness in all its glory… during this walk, we crossed a river like 8 times, but all worth it!
As if my day was not good enough, during the drive back to the cabin in the evening I saw a wolf from the car. The wolf was just standing on the other side of the river watching us. my binoculars were too far away, so it was just a glimpse of a wolf for a few seconds, but it was an awesome sighting in the evening sun.
This was by far the most successful day, although the grizzly sightings I had were amazing as well.
Other cameratrap stories and helicopters
At one of the other cameras, we had a couple of grizzly bears, at least 3 of them were chasing each other and passed by the camera in less than a minute between them… one of them had definitely scratches on his face, so we can assume there was a fight event before this chasing. but still not sure why there were so many bears this close to each other. One of our hypotheses is that these were just males chasing a female, but it’s quite early for bears mating season we think. The other possibility is that there are some cubs from last year involved and a big male wants to scare them away to get access to the female later on… at least some interesting stuff is going on.
Last weekend the helicopter guys went off to find some bears. If they did so, we could have the chance to join them… so we were in contact with Gordon Stenhouse (the man who is involved in almost, or probably all grizzly bear captures in the area) to check flight details. We only had a chance to join if they actually caught a bear…the helicopter flew over us but didn’t land, so no bears to collar (yet). Hopefully, my next blog will be about a helicopter flight… but chances are small…
Trip to Jasper National Park
The study area is partly in Jasper National Park, so a few days ago we went for a 2 days hike into the National Park to put out some cameras. The scenery was spectacular and we camped at the Utopia camp ground, sounds awesome, isn’t it… however in our second day hiking, we had a 34 km hike to do, so quite a walk, but it was awesome. There were some wolverines, cougars and bears on the cameras which were left there from winter till now. I also spotted a few mountain goats.
Our headquarter is based in a cabin at the foothills (Watson Creek Cabin), it’s just a few kilometres away from Cadomin, and about 50km from Hinton (Biggest ‘town’ around). We live with 5 people in this cabin now. We get our drinking water from Hinton and the water for dishes and stuff we get from a pump down at the campground a couple of 100m from the cabin. Electricity is provided by a generator and we go into Hinton once in a while to get wifi on our days off at the FRI (Foothill Research Institute). A great place with interesting people btw.
We now have 2 vehicles and we are putting out cameras in 2 teams most of the days. All cameras have been put out and now we just rotate cameras and maintaining the cameras (check for battery life, download pictures,…). I will continue doing this and maybe I’ll have some more stories to tell later on the field season…
Want to read more about Canada
Other blog articles from my adventure in 2013:
1. First fieldwork position – Canada – Start
3. First Grizzly, Northern Lights, and so much more…
4. Bear encounter & almost famous
5. Camera trap stories, Jasper National Park, & Accommodation
6. Canada 2013: Update past month
7. Let’s Go Outdoors: Grizzlies in the Rockies