Thursday, July 14, 2016

Chilcotin Holidays

Grizzly Hair and Conservation

Last week I went on a pack trip with four guests and two guides. Being an ecologist, the most exciting part for me was all of the signs of grizzly bears we saw on our travels. First we saw bear scat that had to be no older than an hour, and our seasoned guide was able to distinguish that it came from a grizzly bear and not a black bear. Shortly after we saw tracks from a grizzly bear—wow are they ever big! The track was larger than my whole hand. You could see the claw marks in the mud as well, and the distance they were from the toe pads illustrates just how long their claws are. With bear spray and six horses, we weren’t at all apprehensive about seeing a grizzly bear; in fact, we were quite excited and hopeful.

Next we found a rub tree. The story behind rub trees is fascinating. The behaviour is only observed in grizzly bears usually, and not black bears. Grizzlies will find a particular tree that they are satisfied with and use it as a scratching post. Not only that, they will continue to use that one tree in that region of their range over and over again, for years to come. They are so consistent that they even wear pockets into the soil from their footsteps on the path that they always take to their rub tree. They place each foot in the same spot as the last time they came, and the time before that, etc. Because of their consistency, Chilcotin Holidays has implemented a non-invasive method of grizzly bear population research: From our travels we have determined the location of a number of rub trees throughout the South Chilcotin Mountains. We regularly go past a number of them during our pack trips and other vacation trips. We take this opportunity to collect the grizzly hair that is left behind on the rub tree; the follicles left on some of the hairs can be used for DNA testing. Chilcotin holidays has been collecting this data for over a decade now, and the data has contributed to a number of research projects conducted in the area. This data helps us determine important properties of the grizzly bear populations in the area. It can help to determine what conservation efforts need to be implemented to maintain or improve the populations, if any. This is one of a number of ways Chilcotin Holidays contributes to conservation research and efforts of the South Chilcotin Mountains!

Chilcotin Holidays

About Chilcotin Holidays

We are a licensed guide outfitter and we conduct guided wilderness adventures throughout our 5,000 square km operating area. This guide area has been operational since 1880, making it the oldest in British Columbia. More about us HERE.

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