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Mountain Nature and Culture Podcast

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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

Duration: 00:30:24

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...

Duration: 00:27:43

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...

Duration: 00:46:02

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...

Duration: 00:28:05

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...

Duration: 00:31:33

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...

Duration: 00:30:43

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...

Duration: 00:28:15

042 Grizzlies choose berries over salmon, and the Canadian Last Spike

This week I look at an amazing report from Alaska that shows that given the choice, salmon may not be a grizzlies first choice for dinner. I also bring to a close, the story of the building of Canada's transcontinental railway..and with that said, let's get to it. Grizzlies Choose Berries over Salmon Every once in a while you come across a study that throws out everything that you thought you knew about a subject. As a biologist and naturalist, I often lament about how tough the bears in...

Duration: 00:24:02

041 Flying Squirrels, Forest Fire Records and Van Horne Rescues the CPR

This week I take a look at one of our most secretive animals, the northern flying squirrel. It also looks like B.C. has broken a record this summer for the worst fire season on record. Finally, I'll share the story of the Greatest Canadian Railroader, that wasn't well Canadian, William Cornelius Van Horne. And with that said, let's get to it. Flying Squirrels We're all familiar with the red squirrel, that ubiquitous little scavenger that invades bird feeders and constantly chatters at us...

Duration: 00:16:42

Pine beetles bring fire fears and Major A.B. Rogers surveys through the western Mountains, episode 040 of the Mountain Nature and Culture Podcast

Welcome to episode 40 of the Mountain Nature and Culture Podcast. I'm your host, Ward Cameron, and I record this on August 16, 2017, we've finally received a bit of rain in the Canadian Rockies. Every drop is a gift at this point and hopefully it will reduce our explosive fire hazard and let us stop worrying about unplanned fires. This week, I take a look at the fire fears in Jasper as an increase in pine beetle killed pines has added vast amounts of fuel to an already tinder dry forest. I...

Duration: 00:27:22

039 The bear bites back and Hells Bells Rogers

The Bears Bite Back I hate it when the inevitable happens! We've been talking for weeks about people entering closed areas during the most critical time of the year for black and grizzly bears to put on fat for the winter months. I've witnessed numerous people violating the closures and have called for a wildlife ambassador program for Canmore, similar in some ways to the Wildlife Guardians program that has been pioneered by Banff National Park. If you might be interested in getting...

Duration: 00:27:25

038 Farewell to Grizzly 148, Walter Moberly's Surveys, Solar Eclipses and Bird-eating Deer

Ode to Grizzly 148 This has been a heartbreaking week as bear 148, the beloved daughter of Banff's most famous bear 66, was translocated far away from her home territory of Banff and Canmore all the way north to Kakwa Provincial Park, located to the west of Grand Cache. It was a difficult decision for officials with Alberta Environment and Parks, but 148 was getting increasingly closer to people and in the end they felt that the risk of an escalation in behaviour left them with few options...

Duration: 00:28:13

037 Buffaloberry Primer, ancient archaeological site, a national dream begins, golden eagle migrations, and B.C. decides to privatize wildlife management

Ancient archaeological Site found on the Coast For as long as I can remember, archaeologists have been talking about the ice free corridor that ran from Alaska, across the Bering Strait to Russia and all the way past Calgary. We were told that this was the route that the ancestors of all the first nations on the continent would have taken as they migrated from Asia to the new world. Back in episode 6 ( I talked about some chinks in the armour of that...

Duration: 00:32:32

036 Expanding Forest Fires, Bear 148 Gets One More Chance and No National Bird for Caanda

Forest Fires Spreading across British Columbia and now threaten parts of Alberta When I wrote last week's fire focused episode, little did I know that my own community of Canmore would be smelly and smoky this week as fires continue to spread and the number of evacuees in British Columbia climbs. The hot dry weather is showing no signs of abating and over the past week, the number of people forced out of their homes and communities in British Columbia has swelled from 14,000 to more than...

Duration: 00:20:52

Flames across the border

Forest Fires in B.C. Recent forest fires in British Columbia have once again raised the horror of forest fires to the top of the news feeds. The hot dry weather that has been a constant companion for the past few weeks has allowed the number of fires to escalate in the interior of British Columbia and has sky watchers in Alberta thankful for the good soaking we finally received after some record hot temps. B.C. has issued a state of Emergency due to the hundreds of forest fires and...

Duration: 00:18:31

Bear Spray containers, Wildlife overpasses, Bear 148 in trouble, new bear research methods and Waterton Park's namesake

Last week I spoke with Lyndsay Kearns about a canister of bear spray that exploded in her car. It was a horrible situation and the damage to her car was significant. If you'd like to hear her interview, check out During the podcast I mentioned bear spray safety containers sold by Kodiak Wildlife Products. I've since received one and decided to give it a test. Yesterday I placed it in a car parked in the hot sun with a thermometer inside the canister. I...

Duration: 00:37:30

033 Bulletproof elk, exploding bear spray and drones in the high country

Story 1 - Bulletproof Elk A recent study published in the journal PLOS One has brought some amazing insights into the behaviour of female elk in the Rocky Mountains. The study took place in southwestern Alberta and southeastern British Columbia. It looked at the behaviour of female elk when confronted by hunters and how they are able to learn to effectively avoid the hunters completely over time…and when I say avoid…They become virtually bulletproof by the age of 9 or 10. In any animal...

Duration: 00:34:26

032 Microburst Mayhem and Climate Science in Mountain Landscapes

Microburst Mayhem On the evening of June 8, I was getting ready to head out to the climate change presentation that I'll play during the second portion of this episode, and wouldn't you know it, minutes before I left the house, an extremely severe storm hit Canmore. It postponed the presentation slightly as traffic slowed to a halt and audience members were delayed. Little did I know that a little further west, along the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff National Park, a massive microburst was...

Duration: 00:41:05

031 Changing western climates and the importance of science in the post-truth Trumpocene

Story 1 - What will 2050 be like in western Canada Recently the CBC website posted an article by Tara Carman about the potential changes that will take place in British Columbia in the next 30 years with just a 2.5C increase in temperature. The story paints a troubling picture for Canada's westernmost province. It's no secret that our weather has been changing. Here in the Rockies, we are getting more overall moisture during the summer months, but it is coming in fewer, more extreme...

Duration: 00:38:18

030 Grizzlies Meet Bison and new Dino Discoveries

Story 1 - Grizzlies Meet Bison This is one of the most amazing stories to hit the parks in decades, and the first large-scale reintroduction of a large hoofed animal in this area. In February of 2017, 10 pregnant females and 6 young bulls were reintroduced to a remote area of Banff National Park. Just yesterday, on June 7, 2017, Parks announced that the 10th calve had been born. That makes it 10 for 10 which is a great success for bison reintroduction Well it seems like someone else has...

Duration: 00:20:20

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