- Have you ever been in a forest or meadow, heard rustling in the grass or seen movement in the leaves, and wondered "What is it"? We see and hear only a fraction of the animals in a park. Alberta Parks is pursuing new ways of "seeing" and "hearing" so we can understand better "Who lives here?".
- We're using innovative technologies such as wildlife cameras, song meters and bat detectors to record what's found in our sites.
- The information we gather is useful for understanding the role parks and protected areas play in the
- Conservation of biodiversity
- Conservation and management of Species at Risk
- Planning and management of trails to minimize human-wildlife conflict
- These new technologies not only help us gain a better understanding about what's out there but are much less intrusive. The technology doesn't stress animals like the presence of a human can, plus it's safer for biologists too. Animals also come to sites that they might avoid if a human was present.
At William A. Switzer Provincial Park, near Hinton, visitors can experience parks in a new way through the "Who Lives Here?" program.
- We invite visitors to stop and watch and listen at three spots.
- Remote cameras are capturing images of wildlife at these spots. Acoustic detectors are recoding the sounds of birds, amphibians and bats. Once we collect and analyze what's recorded, we'll be able to share them.
- You can share your great photos with us on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook by hastagging them #ABParks#protect.
- These cameras are triggered by motion, capturing images of animals from small mice and voles, to bears and large ungulates like moose.
- Wildlife cameras take images when motion is detected so we get images from any time of the day or night - whenever an animal is in proximity.
- The images are high quality. They enable us to get scientific information such as number of each species in relation to time of day, time of year, presence of other species, weather events, etc.
- See images from the wildlife cameras at William A Switzer Park and Willmore Wilderness Park.
- We can also capture some animal behaviour. See the video below or watch bears recorded in Kananaskis.
- Traditionally, in order to document birds, people have had to record what birds they saw and heard within a plot along a set path. (This technique was also used with some amphibians.)
- New methods include the use of song meters that record sound, day and night, for an entire season or more. This provides much more information on what occurs at a place 24 hours per day.
- We simply download the sound files and then generate a list of what was calling or singing and when. We no longer need to worry about what we might have missed!
- Bat detectors work in a similar fashion to song detectors but record frequencies used by bats. These sound waves are at frequencies that humans can’t hear.
- We then download the accoustic files and use computers to help identify the bats. In general, each bat species emits sound of a specific frequency so that frequency can be matched to the species of bat.
- In Switzer Park, bat detectors have so far confirmed two species: little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and Eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis).