FACETS (Jan 2024)

Using community science to advance grizzly bear conservation

  • Rolanda J. Steenweg,
  • Tracy S. Lee,
  • Danah Duke,
  • Courtney Hughes

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 9
pp. 1 – 11


Read online

Alberta grizzly bears are classified as a threatened species in the province of Alberta as of 2010, with human-caused mortality and habitat loss a primary threat. The people who live, work, and recreate within bear habitat play a crucial role in their conservation. While the public is often enthusiastic about grizzly bears, and opportunistically report their observations to government staff, these reports are not systematic or rigorously collected and lack key information. As such, we developed GrizzTracker as a community science program. Following several years of successful deployment, we analyzed community scientist data and evaluated the efficacy of the program through an online user survey. We found that the GrizzTracker app was useful as a data collection and public engagement tool, yielding information for applied management, and that community scientists were generally satisfied. We provide considerations for future program development, including considerations for human, social, technological, and financial capital investment related to design, development, and implementation of data collection protocols, the importance of clearly communicating outcomes, and opportunities for educational outreach. While there is continued trepidation by traditionally trained scientists to develop or engage in community science programs, and some noted areas of improvement for our program specifically, we think that GrizzTracker offers a success story in community science.