Are bears roaming through the Fort Saskatchewan river valley this summer?
 
According to provincial carnivore specialist Paul Frame, it’s not out of the question.
 
MIX 107 got in touch with Frame, who works for Alberta Environment and Parks, for his thoughts on some photos resident Darcey Halwa posted to a local Facebook page on Monday (Aug.13). A social media debate began when Halwa shared a couple pictures of some animal droppings he spotted on a trail near the Lions Community Fish Pond.
 
“If I'm not mistaken this is bear scat full of berries. Anyone else have any knowledge on scat?” he asked.
 
More than 100 commenters shared their thoughts on the photos – by Friday there was still no agreement on what kind of animal was responsible for leaving the mess, but bear and coyote had been singled out as the most likely culprits, with a small majority siding with Halwa.
 
Porcupine, moose, deer, dogs and even Bigfoot also received a small share of votes.
 
Frame, who often gets pictures from people wanting help identifying mysterious animal scat, wasn’t able to definitively settle the debate.
 
“It's always tough with photos to be conclusive,” he said, adding that without a first-hand look he couldn’t get a full idea of the composition of the droppings -- the scat was also too broken down, weathered from exposure to the elements.
 
“I don't think it's a deer,” he said. “Based on what I can tell, I would lean towards a carnivore of some sort for sure.”
 
Bear, coyote, and domestic dog all made Frame’s list of contenders. Perhaps fortunately for local runners and cyclists, Frame was able to rule out a visit from a cougar. The scat Halwa found was left in the middle of the trail, a depositing technique some carnivores use to mark their territory. Cougars bury their waste rather than leave it out in the open for other animals to find.
 
Frame identified the vegetable matter in the scat as rose hips or possibly berries, plants that coyotes and other carnivores are known to feed on. Wild roses and various types of berry shrubs grow abundantly in the local river valley. Frame also noticed a type of food animals wouldn’t find in the wild.
 
"In the second one... when I zoom in on that, there's some material surrounding the berries that could be vegetation or it could be domestic dog food,” he said.
 
To Frame, the larger diameter of the scat in one of the pictures did point to the presence of a carnivore other than coyote. 

"Looking at that second photo, it does have a lot of characteristics of bear for sure."
 
According to Frame, it wouldn’t be unusual for a bear to make its way through Fort Saskatchewan. Young cougars and bears travel through river drainage areas, taking advantage of ample natural food sources, when they’re venturing out in search of new places to live. Bigger carnivores might steer clear of busy parks, though.
 
"I think it would be hard for a bear to stay really hidden down in there if there was lot of human use," Frame said.
 
Some Facebook users said that they have seen bears in the river valley or surrounding areas in the past. Alberta Fish and Wildlife confirms there has been one reported bear sighting in the Fort Saskatchewan area this year.
 
Frame also made note of the dog park located not far from the site of the mystery scat.
 
"I suppose it is possible that a dog was off leash and was munching on a bunch of berries,” he said. 
 
ANIMALDROPPINGSONEPhoto 1AnimalDroppingsFortSask2Photo 2
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

More Local News

Poor visibility in the heartland

Use extra caution on your drive to work.

École Campbelltown celebrate French heritage

As part of their month-long celebration “Mois de la francophonie albertaine” the students and staff of École Campbelltown held a special flag-raising ceremony for International Francophonie Day.

Update: region experiencing elevated pollution levels

Higher pollution levels are affecting the air quality.

Freedom Conservatives choose Malcolm Stinson for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville

Malcolm Stinson was recently selected as the Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta candidate in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville.

Two pedestrians hit in crosswalks

Keep an eye out for pedestrians.

Chamber hosting All Candidate Forum for provincial election

Residents will soon have the chance to hear from their candidates.

Operation Red Nose provides $5,600 in community grants

Several youth-based community groups recently received some funding.

Fort Sask Wellness Hub for Youth gaining support from local partners

A new project in the Fort is getting support from many different realms.

Public pool usage down in Redwater

Last summer wasn't the strongest for the Redwater Pool.

Warm weather increasing danger of thin ice

With spring on the way, ice safety is becoming more important.

DiscoverWestman.com is Westman's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

Search the Biz Guide

Login