Last week we introduced you to our first WILDBEAR Awardee, Alyssa Bohart. We hope you enjoyed learning more about Alyssa's work with GPS-collared bears in Canada as part of a major human-wildlife conflict prevention effort.
You'll have many more chances to learn about her ongoing work and progress, and we're hoping to connect our community to Alyssa so you can learn from each other and connect around bear conservation tech. In that spirit, we asked Alyssa a few questions to help you get to know her and her work!
Read Alyssa's answers below, and use this discussion thread to ask Alyssa your own questions, share your own bear tech projects, and connect with others in the bear tech community.
Introducing: Alyssa Bohart, WILDBEAR Awardee
- The WILDLABS Community will be following your progress for the next year, so what milestones can we look forward to seeing in this project?
I work in Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada, which is a large area home to many grizzly bears. This area sees a lot of recreation that has been increasing over time. We work to mitigate human-wildlife conflict and data collection is one of those important pieces.
We have four GPS collars that we aim to deploy on grizzly bears this summer. Ideally, we can deploy at least two of these collars on bears that inhabit an area proposed for recreational development. This area is not used with the same intensity as other recreational areas, therefore these bears are less human habituated/non-habituated. The overall goal of this project is to collect data on bears that are non-habituated and compare the data to bears we already have data for in areas with high human habituation. This will help us present this information to development managers to make informed decisions regarding mitigating human-wildlife conflict in this area.
- What are you most excited about in this project?
I’m really looking forward to getting the data in real time (thanks to WILDLABS and The Brun Bear Foundation!) and seeing if there are similarities or differences between the movement behavior of the human-habituated and non-habituated bears in this area. Our study area has the highest ratio of people recreating to resident grizzly bears globally, and the data showing how human-habituation has potentially impacted bear behavior is not only valuable to our study area, but other areas globally dealing with human-wildlife conflict mitigation.
- What advice do you have for other WILDLABS community members who are working on similar projects? And what knowledge do you hope you'll be able to share by the end of the year?
Feel free to reach out to me and use your networks! Our area has been working on mitigating human-wildlife conflict for a number of years and we have a list of what works well and what does not. We deal with both people and bear management. Our project created an app to record bear sightings and telemetry locations of bears, and we are more than happy to share with any researchers who would find it useful.
After a year of data collection, I’m hoping that we can share our findings about how human-habituated and non-habituated bears differ from each other, or at least give the preliminary results of our project, which will give us hints as to how they differ. Additionally, I’m hoping to share program successes and difficulties so other researchers can learn from our experience.
- What was the first conservation tech tool you can remember using in your career?
Some might consider it older technology, but my first research project involved identifying ungulate hair from predator scats using a good ol’ microscope!
- Are there any conservation tech skills you'd love to learn someday?
I think drone technology has a lot of great potential for projects given the ability to access areas that are physically difficult for field researchers and learning more about this technology would be really fascinating. I’d also love to learn more about using MOTUS for tracking aerial fauna. I’m familiar with collars and that tracking technology, but the MOTUS technology is brand new to me.
- What do you do for fun when you're not working with bears?
So many things! When the water is not frozen, I love to kayak and canoe. In the winter, I like to boulder. I love going to see live music (punk & folk are my favourites) and I really enjoy grabbing delicious food with friends.
- What's a fun fact that the WILDLABS community doesn't know about you?
I’m currently teaching myself the banjo and hope to be a bluegrass picking star one day. My summer project will be learning Milwaukee Blues!
Thanks to Alyssa for chatting with us! If you have questions for her about her work, bear tech, or collaborations, drop them in this discussion thread, or get in touch at [email protected].
For more updates on the WILDBEAR Award and the conservation tech community’s work with bears of all species, follow @WILDLABSNET on Twitter, and visit the The Brun Bear Foundation’s website and Twitter @BrunBear1.