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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 is...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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