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

Super Blood Wolf Moon visible in North America

There will be a spectacular sight in the sky on Sunday (Jan.20).

15 taken into custody after drug bust

Area police detachments have teamed up in a recent drug bust.

Another massive load heading to Industrial Heartland

A second huge piece of equipment is about to travel on our highways.

Gibbons schools put on hold and secure

Gibbons School and Landing Trail School had to take precautionary measures.

EIPS hopeful for Sherwood Heights Junior High replacement school

Work on Sherwood Heights Junior High has become a top priority for Elk Island Public Schools.

Blowing snow advisory issued for area

The advisory has ended.

Made-in-Alberta to potentially invest up to $20 billion in the heartland

Premier Rachel Notley's Made-in-Alberta strategy could have a big payoff in the region.

St. Albert resident wins $7.9 million on LOTTO 6/49

An Alberta man recently hit the jackpot.

Bruderheim growing in population

Bruderheim's recent census results showed growth in the town.

Speeder caught going 149 km/h on Highway 15 bridge

A man was recently pulled over for excessive speeding in the area.

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

Search the Biz Guide

Login