The first time I went into the field with amphibian biologist Mark Thompson, it was early spring and we were checking ponds, puddles, road-side ditches and rotten wood for evidence of breeding toads, frogs and salamanders. Walking along a trail, we were feverishly flipping dead rotten wood, a typical hiding spot for salamanders. “They’re really quick, so you have to be fast to catch them” Mark would say. We would then carefully put the material back where we found it, to ensure that the habitat was intact for them to use eventually. At one point, I turned around and there was Mark knee-deep in a wet alder swale, looking for tadpoles and larvae, and swarming with mosquitoes. “I get so focused on looking for them that I don’t even notice the bugs anymore.”
By now, most bears will have entered their dens for a long winter’s rest. Bear dens, in fact, can be more than just a hole in the ground. The Berenstain Bear’s tree house paints a humanized picture of bear habitat, but it’s closer to reality than you might think. Bears have developed extremely resourceful and diverse strategies for staying safe during their winter nap.
Recent research at the Aleza Lake, John Prince and Alex Fraser Research Forests looked at the range of black bear dens found in each of these areas. Researchers Dexter Hodder (John Prince Research Forest) and Roy Rea (University of Northern BC) surveyed three types of dens in BC’ s central interior: rock dens, excavated dens, and, yes, tree dens. The purpose of the study was to relate den type with likely forest management activities, and to develop recommendations to promote den protection. Continue reading Berenstain Bears at ALRF?→