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?
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 →
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.
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 →
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!
Spinning down one of the designated fat biking trails at Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park.
Choosing 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 →
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.
This is part four of a six part series on hibernators. You can find the first three parts on bears, bats 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
Prairie 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 →
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.