Alberta’s Happy Hibernators: When Hibernators Rise and Shine!

This is the final part of a six part series on hibernators. You can find the first five parts on bearsbatsamphibiansreptiles and other small mammals here.

It feels like we are about halfway through our Alberta winter, a January thaw has given us a break from cold and snow and Canada’s weather predicting mammals are conflicted as to whether we will see an early spring or not. We’ve talked about who is sleeping and where, but when will our hibernators come out again? Do they all wake up at once? What do they typically do when they wake up – besides stretch?

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We Fish you a Happy New Year!

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Rainbow trout eggs are counted and put into a canister.

There were many moments of excitement and curiosity in 45 schools across Alberta last week. The 10,000 students involved in the Fish in Schools: Raise to Release (FinS) program received some new classmates – 65 rainbow trout eggs!

Having reached the eyed egg stage of their life cycle, the rainbow trout were transported from one of Alberta’s fish culture facilities to the classrooms.

The eggs were carefully packed in a thermos and placed in a cooler, before they were driven by staff member, picked up by volunteers, or even sent in the mail to some schools! Continue reading

Snow Study: Staying Safe in Avalanche Country

A small group is gathered around Public Safety Specialist Matt Mueller at the end of a day of Level One Avalanche Skills Training. He’s just demonstrated a “compression test” – cutting a column of snow to check the density of each layer: in this case loose, sugary crumbs underneath a solid cap of wind-packed crust. After explaining to us how easily snow like this can loosen and slide downhill, he lifts up the column – about 70 cm high and 30 cm square – and passes it around, a chunk of snow so heavy that one of the group staggers under its weight and falls over.

Demonstrating a compression test at Avalanche Awareness Day in 2014. Photo: Catharine Findlay.

Demonstrating a compression test at Avalanche Awareness Day in 2014. Photo: Catharine Findlay.

What does Matt and his group have to do with avalanche safety in our mountain parks? The first thing this demonstration drives home is that snow is heavier than you might think. “Imagine a whole slope of this coming down on top of you,” Mueller says. Second, there are many ways to learn more, be the most informed you can to keep yourself safer when you’re venturing into the backcountry in winter. Continue reading

Getting the Skinny on Fat Biking Alberta Parks’ Winter Trails

The first thing to know about winter biking – or fat biking – is that it’s harder than it looks. Keeping your tires on the trail takes some skill, but there’s the promise of a soft landing in a snowbank should you fall off. Past the learning curve, it’s fast-paced, a great workout and an excellent way to experience the outdoors!

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Spinning down one of the designated fat biking trails at Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park.

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Alberta’s Happy Hibernators: Mammals

This is part five of a six part series on hibernators. You can find the first four parts on bearsbatsamphibians and reptiles here.

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We’ve already taken a look at bears and how they spend their winter months. Small mammals also spend the winter in Alberta and survive by doing one of three things:

  • hibernating for the winter (deep hibernation);
  • going into torpor (light hibernation) for short periods and still needing to look for food; or
  • staying active all winter.

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Sprucing up the Legislature Grounds for the Holidays

Xmas Tree 2015Choosing which tree will shine bright at the Legislature grounds over the Christmas season is no easy task! Gary Smith and the warehouse team from the Edson Wildfire Management Area are those responsible and they started their lookout for the perfect tree months ago—almost twelve months ago to be exact, right after they dropped off the 2014 Christmas tree! Continue reading

Kananaskis Trail Report 2015

A little more than two years after the massive flooding in June 2013 in Kananaskis Country, the hard work of restoring several of the region’s iconic trails is mostly done.

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Trail crew and volunteers work on repairing Galatea Trail, summer 2015.

In the late spring of 2015 the Alberta Parks Bow Valley trail crew began seasonal work on the Ribbon Creek and Galatea trails, off Highway 40. Ribbon Creek probably had the worst flood damage of any of the popular K-Country trails – water and debris raged down this narrow creek bed, taking out all the bridges and piling up massive knots of dead trees, brush and boulders at every turn.

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Alberta’s Happy Hibernators: Reptiles

This is part four of a six part series on hibernators. You can find the first three parts on bearsbats and amphibians here.

For those cold-blooded reptiles that call Alberta home, our winters are the perfect opportunity to slow their breathing and fall into a deep, deep sleep. Located mostly in the south of the province, the types of reptiles found here are few – only seven snake, one lizard and one turtle species.

Into the Snake’s Den

shutterstock_7148287PrairieRattlesnakePrairie rattlesnakes, western hog-nosed snakes, bull snakes, yellow-bellied racers and three species of garter snakes: plains, wandering and red-sided can be found in Alberta. Only the wandering garter snake and the red-sided garter snake  are found outside of southern Alberta.

Not all snakes winter in the same places. What makes the best winter home? In most cases, lots of friends and an underground den, or hibernacula, are ideal. Snake dens are usually located in rock crevices or caves, or small mammal burrows. The temperatures within hibernacula remain just above freezing during the winter because of the insulating effects of the earth. Continue reading

Tigers in Alberta? Sounds kind of fishy!

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What do you get when you cross a female brown trout and a male brook trout?

If you guessed tiger trout, you’re right!

We asked, and you told us Alberta.

A total of nine water bodies were selected as candidate waters for initial stocking trials of tiger trout. These waters were further assessed during the summer of 2015 for both biological and social acceptability of stocking tiger trout.

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Don’t go out with a bang – watch for wildlife

November is the peak month for vehicle collisions across Alberta – including those with wildlife. In 2014, there was an average of 31 wildlife vehicle collisions in our province each day!

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