Seasonal Movement Patterns and Feeding Habits of Adult Black Bears in Algonquin Provincial Park
|Jeremy examines the seasonal movements and feeding habits of adult male Black Bears||
Jeremy Inglis is a Fish and Wildlife Technician with Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and is currently based out of the Pembroke District Office. He studied Black Bears in Algonquin Park from 1992 to 1997. During this research period Jeremy examined the seasonal movements and feeding habits of adult male Black Bears.
Jeremy became interested in wildlife at a very early age. "As long as I can remember I was totally interested in nature. First it was dinosaurs and birds of prey, then butterflies, birds and turtles and later fish. 'Fire in the bones' from day one!"
After attending college in Lindsay at Sir Sandford Fleming College where he graduated as a Fish and Wildlife Technician, Jeremy eventually found himself working in Algonquin Provincial Park for the Fish and Wildlife section. Being part of the Fish and Wildlife team meant a lot of exposure to wildlife research. "As a member of the Algonquin Fish and Wildlife staff, research was part and parcel to the job, however, I owe my greatest exposure to research to Mike Wilton, former Park Biologist, who took me under his wing and got me involved in wildlife research from A to Z."
As part of the Fish and Wildlife staff in Algonquin, Jeremy was involved in various research projects such as Wood Turtle, Moose and various fisheries studies with Brook Trout, Lake Trout, Smallmouth Bass and Muskellunge. One of the most significant research projects Jeremy was involved with was a five-year study of Black Bears. "The Black Bear research was partly through necessity as a result of several attacks on humans in Algonquin Park. The research focused on adult male Black Bears which are often responsible for such attacks and where research efforts were lacking."
Why is Algonquin Park a great place to do wildlife research?
"Algonquin Park is a researcher's paradise! It represents a place in South-central Ontario where wildlife and fish populations remain relatively intact (i.e., free from human influence) in a large geographical and accessible area. The habitat, although influenced historically and presently by humans, still has enough areas where controls and relatively untouched areas provide many research opportunities. Also, the eastern third (lowland conifer) and western two-thirds (upland deciduous), not to mention the numerous water bodies and watershed headwaters, make the Park a diverse and all-encompassing environment in which to conduct research. Finally, the privilege of going through a locked gate and having access to miles of bush roads that few others can access is something I never stopped appreciating in my 14 years in the Park."
What other questions have arisen from your research?
"One thing you learn from research is that for every question you answer ten more arise. One question I think that warrants investigation is the importance of Algonquin Park as a source population for a number of species such as Black Bears, Moose, marten, and wolves. Also, the effects of human-caused mortality on Park 'resident' populations. The only mortality we observed in resident radio-collared, adult male bears was a result of gunshot and the effects of human caused mortality on Park wolves is, of course, front and centre in research right now."
What changes have you seen in wildlife research methods?
"I think radio telemetry has played a huge role in wildlife management and it has advanced from a standard VHS system to Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and satellite tracking systems. This kind of technology has also gone hand-in-hand with Geographical Information Systems (GIS) as a tool for mapping wildlife movements, habitat, etc. Also, computer programs and modelling have played a very significant role in present day wildlife research."
Why is it cool to do what you do?
"There is nothing like working with bears! They are an intelligent species with individual personalities that always keep you guessing. I have worked with Black Bears for 17 years and have been fortunate enough to have taken part in a Polar Bear study for the last two years and I still have a lifetime of learning to do on bears. I think it is the mystery around a given species that keeps you going."
Jeremy Inglis conducted his research for the Fish and Wildlife section at the Algonquin Park East Gate Complex.
Educators: Learn more about Algonquin’s habitats, download readings and worksheets from the Educator Resources section of the Web Site, or you may also learn more through the following publications:
Mammals of Algonquin Provincial Park
Fifty-three species of mammals have been found in Algonquin Provincial Park. This book explains the life history of these mammals. The many illustrations help to make it easier to identify them, and the book also contains a useful reference chart for distinguishing tracks and scats.
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