Grizzly Bear Research - Scat Collection Update

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fRI Research is trying to understand where and how many grizzly bears live in agricultural lands between Highway 11 and Highway 1 using scat DNA. From now until the bears go into their winter dens, residents of Mountain View County can help collect DNA by sampling bear scat found on your land or while hunting or recreating.

fRI Research has provided scat sampling kits for pick up at the Sundre Fish & Wildlife office. Scat samples collected can be dropped off there as well. The office is located at 127 – 1 Street NW in Sundre - office hours are generally Monday to Friday, 8:15 am to 4:30 pm. Before you go to the office, please call first at 403-638-3805 and speak to Lori Berg, Admin Support, to ensure she is there and the office is open.

The sampling kit consists of:

  1.       five vials containing silica beads
  2.       rubber gloves
  3.       popsicle sticks to scoop samples
  4.       detailed instruction sheet on how to take a sample and how to get precise land location coordinates.

Basically, if you find a bear scat:

  1.       wear the rubber gloves to take the sample – bears may have parasites that can make you sick
  2.       scoop a small, 0.5 cm3 sample with the popsicle stick - roughly the size of a pencil eraser (please do not collect and drop off the entire scat)
  3.       transfer the scat sample into a vial containing silica beads and snap the lid back on
  4.       fill out the required information on the vial label
    1.        date and time of collection
    2.       name of the person who collected the sample
    3.        precise land location of the sample (location information is critical)
  5.       store the vial with the sample in a cool, dry place out of the sun and take it to the Sundre Fish & Wildlife office as soon as you can.

If you’d like to check it all out before you get involved, detailed instructions are at:

https://friresearch.ca/sites/default/files/GBP_2019_09_scat%20collection%20protocol.pdf

And a short, simple sampling demonstration video at:

www.friresearch.ca/scat  

What does bear scat look like?

Bear scat is usually tubular in shape like human and dog feces but larger in diameter and overall amount, especially for adult bears. Because bears are omnivores, their scat varies with their diet. Eating foods with high moisture content (such as fruits and berries) will make the scat more of a cowpie consistency and shape.

When just out of hibernation in the spring, they eat a lot of grass and plant material and the scat is black or brown and full of grass/plant fibre.

As the season progresses and different foods become available, the appearance of the scat will change – there may be evidence of insect parts, hair and bone fragments of ungulates and small mammals, etc.

In summer and fall, berry seeds will be evident in the scat and the type of berry may change the colour of the scat.

It is not possible to determine by sight if the scat is black bear or grizzly bear.

If you find a scat but are not sure it is from a bear, please email a photo to MVBS at sightings@mountainviewbearsmart.com and we can help determine what it is. The first step in the DNA screening will determine if the scat is from a bear species or not. If it is not a bear, no further testing will be done.

If you really can’t get to the Fish & Wildlife office in Sundre to pick up a kit or drop off a sample, please email MVBS at info@mountainviewbearsmart.com and we will try our best to make alternate arrangements. If you have any other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to send us an email.