Enhancing Grizzly Bear Management with Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Monitoring
Wildlife management programs often involve collaborations between government scientists and academic researchers; however, conservation efforts can be enhanced by incorporating the traditional ecological knowledge of Indigenous peoples. As enduring stewards of the land, Indigenous communities have a deep understanding of our living natural resources and may offer unique perspectives based on their traditional values and expertise. Especially for issues of cultural significance, such as grizzly bear management, cultural monitoring is an approach to integrating local traditional knowledge to assess environmental conditions and generate data that can be used to inform conservation plans.
Increasing human development and recreational land use in mountain areas puts pressure on local grizzly bear populations and can lead to human-bear conflicts. To better understand how grizzly bear movement and habitat might be affected by these factors, members of the Stoney Nakoda conducted a cultural monitoring program in the Kananaskis area of west-central Alberta. The study, in collaboration with Alberta Environment and Parks and the Foothills Research Institute, involved cultural monitoring fieldwork as well as interviews with community elders to document traditional knowledge. These activities identified multiple areas of cultural significance and indicators of grizzly habitat use. The researchers also developed several management recommendations, including restrictions on human activity and development, increasing the number of wildlife crossings on roadways, promoting cultural awareness, conducting a cultural ceremony for grizzlies, and continuing cultural monitoring efforts in the area. This study demonstrates how the traditional knowledge and perspectives of Indigenous communities can help inform management and ultimately enhance wildlife conservation.
This is a summary article authored by Charlie Loewen. For further information, please see the original technical report:
Stoney Nakoda Nations Cultural Assessment for the “Enhancing grizzly bear management programs through the inclusion of cultural monitoring and traditional ecological knowledge.” Prepared August 2016 for Environment Canada by Stoney Tribal Administration Stoney Consultation Team, Morley, Alberta, Canada.
Please see the original document (here) for more information.