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062 The Life of Chief Crowfoot of the Blackfoot, and bears along the train tracks

Crowfoot The First Nations of the plains were a diverse and powerful collection of Tribes that were often at war with one another. Wars over territory, the best hunting areas, the theft of horses, and many other grievances kept the borders of various nations constantly in flux. One of the most powerful groups were the Blackfoot Confederacy of southern Alberta and northern Montana. The Confederacy was formed by three nations, the Siksika or Blackfoot, Piikani or Piegan, and the Kainai or...


061 Sulphur Storms, Mismatched Colours, and Famous Filming Locations

Sulphur Storms This past week has marked the start of pollen season in the mountain west. The white spruce, in particular, released vast amounts of yellowish-green pollen, coating every car, patio set, pond, and puddle. The railings alongside trails and even the surfaces of leaves have been covered in this fine powder. On my car, places I previously touched were dusted in a manner similar to fingerprint dust, leaving a yellowish outline of my fingerprint. Spruce are part of the Pine...


060 Tricking bumblebees and a renewed focus on ecological integrity in Canada's national parks

Orchids tricking Bumblebees Wandering trails around the Bow River valley, it seems like every day there are new and exciting changes taking place. The leaves have begun to emerge and the early season blooms are adding a splash of colour to the meadows and forest leaf litter. Today I saw my first Calypso orchids of the season. These tiny, delicate orchids are one of the first forest flowers to emerge in the spring. The forest floor is still a tangle of pine needles with nary a hint of...


059 Local photographers, natural orchestras, Whirling disease, bear updates, and natural economics

Local Photographers If you're a regular listener, you'll already know that I am both a photographer and author. It was through both of these rolls that I'm feeling very sad today to hear of the passing of Doug Leighton. Doug was a visionary photographer who introduced countless numbers of people to the magic of the Canadian west. His coffee table books and calendars were widely collected. I remember a particular favourite was a large format 11 x 14 inch calendar which thousands of people...


058 Time to clean up the bird feeders, bobcats be coming, and the bears are back.

Time to take down your bird feeders Now that spring is, well, technically upon us. It's time to take down your bird feeders. Communities like Banff and Jasper, located within the national parks, already ban bird feeders. While Canmore is outside of the mountain parks, it has a bylaw that forbids bird feeders between April 1st and October 31st. While maintaining bird feeders can provide hours of amusement in the winter months when chickadees and nuthatches gather for sunflower seeds, there...


057 New Burgess fossils, and red fox return to the Rockies, episode 57 of the Mountain Nature and Culture Podcast 057 New Burgess fossils, and red fox return to the Rockies, episode 57 of the Mountain Nature and Culture Podcast 057 New Burgess fossils, an

Welcome to episode 57 of the Mountain Nature and Culture Podcast, I'm your host, Ward Cameron and I'm recording this on April 1, 2018. This week I look at three amazing fossils that are teaching palaeontologists about the evolution of some of the world's oldest creatures. I also look at the return of red fox to the Rocky Mountains. It's an action-packed episode so with that said, let's get to it. Some wisdom from John Muir I wanted to start today with a fabulous quote by John Muir. As a...


056 New Super Berry, what's in a name, and ecological trap

So, what would you be willing to endure to make it home for Christmas In these modern times? These days trips home usually involve expensive plane fares or long drives on winter roads made safer by winter tires, interior heaters, and modern clothing. What if you were faced with a 112 km snowshoe trek on an unbroken trail in a blizzard - you know, just like your parents told you what it was like to walk to school in the days of yore! Well, Tom Wilson was more than just a mountain man. He...


Advice from Edward Abbey, bison updates, and woodpecker headaches

Edward Abbey Quote I stumbled upon a quotation recently from the great ecological activist Edward Abbey. It was shared on Facebook by Kevin Van Tighem, a former Banff National Park Superintendent. He was talking about how tiring it can be to be a public advocate for nature and ecology. Abbey was highly regarded as one of the great authors on conservation and was a militant protector of wild spaces. He also strongly opposed what he called: "industrial tourism", something the mountain west...


054 Frozen feet at Christmas, new wolf pack forming, 10 New Year Resolutions, and what determines success in Grizzly translocations

Home for Christmas - Tom Wilson has a close call So, what would you be willing to endure to make it home for Christmas In these modern times? These days trips home usually involve expensive plane fares or long drives on winter roads made safer by winter tires, interior heaters, and modern clothing. What if you were faced with a 112 km snowshoe trek on an unbroken trail in a blizzard - you know, just like your parents told you what it was like to walk to school in the days of yore! Well,...


053 David Thompson heads west, and do mountain pine beetles increase the risk of forest fires?

David Thompson heads west Last week, I ended the story of David Thompson with his leaving the employment of the Hudson's Bay Company, and joining the rival Northwest Company. As Thompson began his journey to the west, he described the landscape of the great plains: "The climate is good, the winters about five months, the summers are warm, and autumn has many fine days. The soil is rich and deep, and [there is] much vegetation mould from the annual decay of the leaves of the forest trees,...


052 David Thompson quits the Hudson's Bay Company, and what's up with climate science deniers?

David Thompson Part 2 Last week I talked about David Thompson's arrival in Canada and some of his adventures during the earliest part of his long career in Canada. They were just the start of a 40+ year adventure across the wilderness of this nation and the northern United States. This week, I planned to talk about his explorations in the Canadian Rockies and along the course of the Columbia River in British Columbia, but quite frankly, his story is just too important to rush. So this...


051 Melting Glaciers, and David Thompson's Legacy Begins

Melting Mountain Glaciers For many years it has been believed that Canada's western mountain glaciers, also known as the Cordilleran Ice Sheet, melted some 12.5 thousand years ago. A new study published in the Journal Nature by researcher Brian Menounos and his team is shedding new light on just when our mountains became ice-free. Deciphering the story of ice melt across western Canada's mountain has far-reaching implications. By understanding how ice melted thousands of years ago, we can...


050 New frontiers for wildlife crossings, and the scourge of scurvy

Welcome to Episode 50 of the Mountain Nature and Culture Podcast. I'm your host, Ward Cameron and I'm recording this on November 25, 2017. I can't believe this is actually episode 50. When I started this project almost a year and a half ago, I'm not sure I believed I would actually ever get 50 shows recorded. All I could do was focus on the next episode. Each new episode triggered a new round of research, reading, scripting, recording, editing, and uploading. For me, it's been about the...


049 A look at polar bear ecology, cougars that aren't solitary and does shooting problem bears work

In this episode I look at some of the reasons so many people flock to Churchill every year to see polar bears. I also look at a new research study that has shown that cougars are not nearly as solitary as biologists once believed. Finally, I examine a stu


048 Pikas struggling with warming climates, Neanderthal medicine, and mining gravel river beds

Pika in a time of Climate Change The Rocky Mountains are known around the world as a great place to spot wildlife. Although most visitors to the area are looking for iconic animals like elk, bighorn sheep and bears, some of our tinier residents can be equally exciting. One of the more fascinating alpine animals is the pika. If you’ve never seen a pika —relax, you’re not alone. I remember my first sighting. I was nearing the summit of Nigel Pass in Banff Park, when all of a sudden I started...


047 Canada's 150th birthday and its effects on visitation to the Mountain Parks an Ode to Bear 148, and interviews with several candidates.

Canada 150 Visitation Unless you've been living under a rock this past year, you know that 2017 represents the 150th birthday of Canada. As a nation, we were born just 150 years ago on July 1, 1867. Now this wasn't the Canada we know today, but a teeny tiny Canada with a lot of well, wilderness. Canada, such as it was, was made up of Upper and Lower Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and that's it. Upper Canada then became Ontario and Lower Canada, Quebec. Looking at the rest of what...


046 Bears and Trains and the Cariboo Goldrush becomes a Bonanza

Look Out Bears, There's a Train Coming In episode 34 I talked about the incredible success that Banff National Park has had in terms of reducing the number of animals, such as grizzly bears, that are being killed along our highways. The system of over and underpasses that have been pioneered here are now serving as a template for many new areas that are trying to emulate Banff's successes. You can listen to the full episode at While the highways have...


045 Wolves help grizzlies by killing elk, the Trans Canada Trail is complete, the Jasper to Columbia Icefields trail falls into limbo and gold rushes in British Columbia

Wolves are a grizzlies best friend - at least in Yellowstone Yellowstone has become a world renowned laboratory for what can happen when long absent carnivores are returned to the landscape. For decades across North America, predators were seen as the enemy, and targeted for extermination. Bounties were paid for the pelts of wolves, coyotes and other carnivores in order to make the wilderness a more human friendly place. The program resulted in a natural system that ran amok. Food...


044 Flying giraffes and loving the mountains to death

Flying Dinosaurs as Tall as Giraffes If you're a regular listener of this podcast, then you know that I love dinosaurs. Living in Alberta is the perfect mix because we have one of the best landscapes for finding dino remains and there are new discoveries happening all the time. The Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller is one of the leading research centres in the world and for many visitors to Alberta, it is there first real opportunity to look at some of the most unique fossils that have...


043 Save a caribou, kill a moose, the burgess shales and fire updates on the mountain west

Can Killing Moose help Caribou? A recent study conducted by researchers in British Columbia's Columbia Mountain range is raising eyebrows for its novel approach to trying to help struggling caribou populations in several endangered herds throughout several areas. Over the past few years, programs focused on killing wolves in many areas concentrated on reducing predation of already declining herds of caribou in Alberta and British Columbia. These herds have been in decline for a long...