The Foothills Model Forest (FMF) in west-central Alberta includes not only some of the most photographed landscape in Canada — Jasper National Park, for example — it is also home to a symbol of Canada’s natural heritage: grizzly bears.
Gathering and disseminating information and tools that will help conserve these majestic animals has been an important project for the FMF. And a very successful one so far.
On June 9, 2004, the Foothills Model Forest received the Emerald Award (Research and Innovation category) from the Alberta-based Foundation for Environmental Excellence for its five-year grizzly bear research that has yielded grizzly bear habitat maps and movement models for a 100 000 square kilometer area — an unprecedented scale in wildlife management research.
During the research period 1999― 2003, 41 bears were captured and fitted with global positioning system (GPS) collars in order to monitor their movements and habitat use, population status and trends, and mortality.
The FMF’s tools are being put to good use. Some of the model forest’s industry partners are already using them to minimize their impact on prime grizzly bear habitat, particularly as it relates to the planning of roads and pipelines.