Warm weather has Bow Valley grizzlies stirring and a local wildlife advocacy group is holding a contest to remind the public the bears are coming out of hibernation.
Bow Valley Wildsmart is challenging the public to guess when the first collared grizzly bear in the Bow Valley will be detected by telemetry data moving in the montane region.
Facebook users are asked to ‘be friends with Bow Valley Wildsmart’ and pick a date when conservation officers, bear monitors or Wind River Bear Institute staff will detect the first collared grizzly below 1,700 metres. The first three correct answers will receive a Wildsmart prize pack, including a coupon for bear spray, a Wildsmart hat and a Peter Dettling calender.
“Bear season is starting again and we want people to be aware on Facebook,” said Bow Valley Wildsmart program director Kim Titchener.
Currently there are three collared or tagged grizzly bears denning in the area: an orphaned female grizzly, a larger male grizzly and a female grizzly with at least one cub in Wind Valley. There is a chance other relocated bears will wander into the area, or Banff bears will show up on the radar, Titchener said, and traditionally, large male grizzlies are the first to emerge from their dens.
“We have no idea which bear it’s going to be, but it’s most likely going to be a large male,” Titchener said.
Last year, the first signs of grizzly activity in the Bow Valley occurred in Skogan’s Pass, when grizzly tracks were found in late March. However, the contest will only recognize grizzlies detected with telemetry data, as the contest is not a spring bear search.
“We don’t want people to go around looking for bears. That would defeat the whole purpose of Wildsmart,” Titchener said.
The second goal of the contest is to increase visitation on the Wildsmart Facebook page. Wildsmart has friends in the Bow Valley, Calgary and across the country, and Titchener wants the site to become the location for wildlife information across the nation.
“It’s become a really great educational tool for us. We put up updates on wildlife and bear activity that is really interactive. It’s creating its own little culture online. It’s the way communication is going and the way we have to go.”
That should translate into an educated public concerned with preserving bears in the valley.
In order to sign up for the contest, participants must be members of Facebook and send a friend request to Bow Vallley Wildsmart – then send a message with a predicted date.