Read the speaker abstracts here.
Our last webinar in this series started with John Paczkowski from Alberta Parks and Claire Edwards from the University of Alberta discussing a long term-term dataset pertaining to aversive conditioning of grizzly bears in Kananaskis Country. With many bears and many people using the same landscape, the work that has been happening in Kananaskis over the past few decades is an example of successful human-bear coexistence. A big part of this is due to the continued and dedicated staff capacity directed towards coexistence and successful garbage management in campgrounds and day use areas. All bears that are part of the aversive conditioning program are collared and tagged so they can be monitoring; most of these bears are habituated but not food conditioned. Food conditioned bears are managed differently. The aversive conditioning program gives bears an unpleasant experience when they are in the “red zone”, an area populated with campgrounds and human developments; staff repeatedly condition individual bears as they enter this zone. Most aversive conditioning happens during the berry season as bears move into red zones to forage. Over 20 years, 8000 records have been recorded. Managing roadside bears continues to be challenging to keep bears and people safe. Over the years, Park managers have been able to provide an array of tools and test their effectiveness on individual bears. They are working to compare bear response over time based on equipment used and bear characteristics. They’ve also been able to the aversive conditioning data to look at family and relational patterns in response. Managing human behaviour continues to be a challenge.
Our second speaker was Deanna Steckler from the University of Alberta discussing Echinococcus in Edmonton’s urban coyotes. Coyotes are a definitive host for Echinococcus multilocularis and since 2012 there has been a new, more virulent strain spreading throughout Alberta that can infect humans. Over half of the coyotes in Edmonton are infected and this number is greater in urban areas than in rural areas. Coyotes ingest anthropogenic food (e.g., compost), which may relate to an overall increased susceptibility to parasitic infections. But coyotes are exposed to the parasite through the consumption of rodents, which are also attracted to compost piles. Deanna set out to find the links between diet and infection by examining coyote carcasses from urban and rural areas and compared physiology, parasitic infection, and diet. She detected parasites through DNA tests of the intestinal scrapings and by visual detection and used stomach and claw samples to look at short- and long-term diets, respectively. She presented an array of results in her talk. Deanna found that urban coyotes have higher infection rates than rural coyotes, but that long-term diet did not differ with infection status. Infected coyotes consumed more trash items and urban coyotes consumed more rodents, but contrary to her prediction, uninfected coyotes consumed more anthropogenic food. Deanna is still unsure of the degree to which humans may be at risk, but the main preventative measure is to wash your hands and secure any food attractants on your property. This reduces the likelihood of attracting coyotes to you and limits opportunities for exposure.
This webinar was attended by 32 people and it was a great way to end our webinar series based on talks that would have been presented at the 2020 conference.
Our next webinar series will start in May, once the 2021 conference is behind us and we’re thirsty for more talks and knowledge! Stay tuned for that. Members always get priority registration for webinars and can view webinar recordings any time in our members’ area. Join us for this great membership perk!
A video of the webinar is posted in our members area.
We are always looking for corporate sponsors for our webinar series. Call Sarah if you’d like more information.
Interested in more science talks from ACTWS members and supporters? Check out our annual conference!
Professional refers to someone who works with wildlife and/or their habitats in a professional setting.
In this context, it is not in reference to a legal professional designation.