Canadian Rockies Remote Camera Species Occupancy Project

Project Objectives

Study AreaThe overall goal of this project is to develop a multi-species monitoring protocol for carnivores and their prey that can be applied to multi-carnivore systems across the globe. Most carnivores in the Canadian Rockies are not uniquely identifiable because they lack stripes and spots (e.g. wolves, cougars, grizzly and black bears). We are developing occupancy-modeling methods using data from remote cameras which will allow for the monitoring of multiple species simultaneously, at large scales, in remote areas, and cost-effectively. Occupancy models will be used to understand how large-mammal-community composition changes due to human activity and development across the study area. Data are being collected from 250+ cameras across the 22,000km2 study area in Southern British Columbia and Alberta that includes 5 national parks, 3 provincial parks and other provincial lands.


During the first year of this study, we coordinated efforts to ensure comparability of field methods among the parks (camera positioning, selection of microsites, database management, etc.) and has allowed for the combination of data from previous years for all parks. We analyzed 2011 data with maximum likelihood methods to model occupancy of 13 species (grizzly bear, wolf, lynx, cougar, black bear, coyote, elk, moose, mule deer, white-tailed deer, red fox). We investigated how covariates such as trailtype, camera type and bear rubtree presence influence detection probabilities for these 13 species in order to inform sampling in 2012. An investigation into the effectiveness of using lure to increase detection probabilities was also focused upon during a pilot study where we compared the efficacy of using lure on wildlife trails to maximize capture probability when compared to placing cameras on human-use trails with no lure. Results are summarized in our first annual report. In 2012 we deployed 72 cameras in a nested-grid design of varying camera densities. Data is being collected at 25, 100 and 400km2 scales in order to investigate the effect of sampling intensity on multi-species occupancy inferences.


First year progress report (click to download)

Final report March 31, 2015 (click to download)

In the News:

Rocky Mountain Outlook, Feb 21 2013

Wildlife Careras

Lead Researchers:

Robin Steenweg, PhD Student
Mark Hebblewhite


Jesse Whittington, Banff National Park,Parks Canada
Derek Peterson, Lake Louise, Parks Canada
Brenda Dobson, Jasper National Park, Parks Canada
Barb Johnston, Waterton Lakes National Park, Parks Canada
Melanie Percy, Kananaskis Country, Alberta
John Paczkowski, Kananaskis Country, Alberta
Jason Fisher, Alberta Innovates


Parks Canada (Jasper, Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Waterton National Parks)
Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation
Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute
Yellowstone to Yukon
Miistakis Institute University of Calgary

Project Duration:


Project Links:

Parks Canada Banff National Park Remote Cameras

Wild Video