Episode 35: Bear Country

Stewart Steinhauer and Shelley Jodoin-Chouinard stand beside a new bear sculpture headed for MacEwan University
Stewart Steinhauer and Shelley Jodoin-Chouinard stand beside a new bear sculpture headed for MacEwan University

Shelley Jodoin-Chouinard asks if the proliferation of lawns in Edmonton has anything to do with the absence of bears in the city.

Listen first, then read more below.

spoilers below

Two bear carvings outside Stewart's studio, with grass behind
Bear carvings outside Stewart’s studio

To get a sense for why bears capture our imagination so much, we went up to Saddle Lake First Nation to visit Stewart Steinhauer. He’s carved many stone bears, including the Sweetgrass Bear at the University of Alberta and a sculpture now being installed at MacEwan University.

Anja Sorensen, a Wildlife Biologist at fRI Research in Hinton, helped us get a baseline for how big the historical range of grizzlies has been in Alberta compared to today. She also told us about their hair snag studies and grizzly scat app (down for renovations until the fall), which allows anyone in the field to collect scat samples and help measure the grizzly population in the province.

A grizzly bear inside a hair snag lure site [Photo: fRI Research]
A grizzly bear inside a hair snag lure site [Photo: fRI Research]
A tuft of grizzly bear hair caught at in a line of barbed wire, with pink flowers in the background
A tuft of grizzly bear hair caught at in a line of barbed wire. [Photo: fRI Research]
Nissa Petterson, a Conservation Specialist with the Alberta Wilderness Association, spoke to us about the surprising historic size of the grizzly population in Alberta.

Further Reading:

This episode is made possible by support from Taproot Edmonton and the Edmonton Historical Board.

We also gave shout-outs in the episode to YourForest and The Narwhal’s podcast Undercurrent: Bear 148.

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