June 9, 2013

Changing of the Bear Guard

Retired human / wildlife conflict specialist Hal Morrison.

We've been living in Lake Louise long enough to see lots of people come and go. Two weeks ago, the town of Field, just west of Lake Louise, hosted a big sendoff for Hal Morrison and his wife Janice.  Hal had been the head of the human / wildlife conflict team in Lake Louise and Yoho for many years, and did a great job of keeping animals – mostly bears – and people safe.  He was a great storyteller too, sharing stories with many of us locals about how bears behave, and how we should behave around them.

Taking over for Hal is Brianna Burley.  She's been working with Hal for the last six or seven years, and therefore has lots of experience with wildlife.  She's also an academic, and is currently working on her Master's degree from the University of Alberta.  Using cameras mounted on locomotives, she's studying how bears get hit by trains, and what can be done to prevent these collisions.

Brianna Burley takes over as head of human / wildlife conflict team.
Keeping people and bears safe is serious work, but every once in a while, the staff get to have some fun.  A few years ago, Hal and Brianna headed up Panorama Ridge to find a radio collar that had come off grizzly bear #72 during hibernation.  Collars are valuable, so they retrieved it by tracking the signal.  They also got a first hand look at a recently vacated grizzly bar den, which is a rare experience in these parts.

Happy retirement, Hal and Janice, and welcome to your new job, Brianna!