Cone Explosion


Jasper Fitzhugh  August 06, 2014 When the wind blows through my Jasper cul-de-sac, the spruce trees brace themselves against the gusts, the way millions of years of evolution have designed them to. This year, however, the tops of some of the spruce are so laden with cones, it seems possible that with one good blast, they might just snap off. This phenomenon can be seen everywhere around the park, from the middle of the townsite, to the sub-alpine near the Columbia Icefield. From a distance…

Beyond the viral video: What happens after a grizzly bear encounter?


Earth Touch News June 23 2014  Viral videos of bears seem to be everywhere on the web right now. From a black bear in Northern Alberta to a rather large grizzly in Alaska, millions of people have tuned in to view these close encounters. And while watching them from the safety of our desk chairs allows us to glimpse the awe and power of these animals, these encounters can be terrifying interactions between humans and bears, and can have serious consequences for both. So what happens…

Trout hybrids on rise as climate changes


Posted by: Fitzhugh Posted date: June 04, 2014 The westslope cutthroat trout looks like a tough fish, but looks can be deceiving. Named for the red slashes that mark its lower jaw, the fish—the only cutthroat trout native to Alberta—is listed as threatened under both Alberta’s Wildlife Act and the federal Species at Risk Act. And in the United States, it’s actually considered a “sensitive” species by the U.S. Forest Service, meaning its population has been seriously reduced by habitat loss and hybridization with other…

Waggle-dancing bees: Ecological consultants of the future?

Photo Credit: Dr. Karin Alton

May 23, 2014 Earth Touch News   In a hive buzzing with honeybees, there’s a whole lot of shakin’ going on. To the untrained eye it might look like random bees vibrating along an imaginary path over the comb, then circling back through hoards of other bees to do it again. But to bees, this high-speed weaving is a waggle dance – an intricate pattern of moving and shaking that tells other bees where to find the best flowers at which to feed. By decoding…

Why did the bear cross the road? To find a mate on the other side

Grizzly bear family using Overpass. Photo: Banff Wildlife Crossings Project.

Earth Touch News, March 20th, 2014 Dr. Michael Sawaya about to pour blood and guts over a pile of wood inside a maze of barbed wire. This “hair trap” is effective when collecting samples for genetic testing. Not far from the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park, Dr. Mike Sawaya, a researcher with Parks Canada, ran into five grizzly bears while setting a trap to collect grizzly and black bear hair. The trap was strategically placed in a buffalo berry patch, a favourite bear food, and used rotting…

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