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How the WildBEAR Award is helping grizzly bears

The Brun Bear Foundation proudly funds the WildBEAR Award. The first project was in Canada

By Alyssa Bohart*

The WildBEAR Award aims to fill funding gaps and connect the puzzle pieces of an awardee’s project, driving them toward success, as well as provide a platform to share their ongoing work and connect with conservation tech experts. I was proud to win the first award which supported a human-wildlife project tracking grizzly bears in Canada and am equally proud to now serve on the adjudication panel for the next award.

About my WildBEAR project

Grizzly bears are often feared by people who travel and recreate in bear habitat especially in the Kananaskis Country region of Alberta, Canada. Although grizzly bear attacks are very rare, there can be serious consequences in conflict situations. I am part of a team that works on reducing grizzly human- bear conflict in Kananaskis Country. I have worked and volunteered with the team since 2020. This area sees a lot of increasing recreational pressure over time. We work to mitigate human-wildlife conflict and data collection is one of those important pieces. We have several years of GPS collar data from bears that are human-habituated and we are curious how their movement may differ from bears in the region that are less habituated. Using the WildBEAR Award, we were able to purchase and deploy a collar on a grizzly bear in an area with less recreation. Ideally, we can deploy more collars on bears that inhabit this area, as it is under increasing pressure from recreational development.

Using the WildBEAR Award, we were able to purchase and deploy a collar on a grizzly bear in an area with less recreation

By looking at how grizzly bears respond to human activity we can make better informed decisions to manage development pressures. This data can be presented to planners and managers to make informed decisions regarding mitigating human-wildlife conflict in this area. With our new collar, we have already been able to create animations to roughly look at how movement may differ. This video shows an adult female bear (orange/left side) who is human-habituated and an adult male bear (blue/right side) who is less habituated. The valley the female spends her time in is full of campgrounds, day-use areas, and hiking trails, whereas the Highwood Pass is less developed. We do see differences in their movement in this video, but it is important to note that females have smaller territories than males, so this may explain the difference we see. By having more collars on bears in this area and more data, we should be able to formally analyse the data to test for differences. Luckily, we have a few more collars and we hope to deploy them in the near future!

The GPS data allows the bears to be tracked and enhances understanding of how to mitigate potential human-bear conflict

This project has helped me gain experience for my current position as a polar bear biologist

Results from the grizzly bear study part funded by the WildBEAR Award could apply to polar bears

This project has helped me gain experience for my current position as a polar bear biologist. Although I don't work with collar data in my new position, I hope to use my human-wildlife conflict experience to help mitigate human conflict with polar bears. There is always the potential that the results from our grizzly bear study could apply to polar bears!

For more information on the 2024 WildBear Award please email

WildBEAR Award winner Alyssa Bohart

*Alyssa is a polar bear biologist and part of a team that manages 12 of the global polar bear subpopulations. This involves performing aerial surveys for estimating polar bear population abundance/inventory, assisting with field planning (gear ordering/inventory, fuel cache logistics, field safety plan), and co-authoring aerial survey abundance reports. Alyssa has also led and made decisions regarding integrated resource management of polar bears through collaboration with public, Inuit, local and regional governments. This has included decisions on allocations and conservation/sustainability initiatives for polar bears.


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