One of the great things about research is that it never feels done. Data is gathered and analysed and each analysis raises a whole new series of questions that I hadn’t really thought of before. With the bear data associated with my research, this turns into a lot of head scratching and brainstorming with my supervisors and reading and asking other biologists what they think. With the visitor survey, it’s a little easier.
See, I can’t sit a grizzly bear down with a pen and paper and ask him to tell me how he feels when people walk by or to describe on a scale of 1-10 how important food is versus being around people. But I can sit down with people and ask them all kinds of things.
The Visitor Survey Preliminary Results
The visitor survey itself is full of closed-ended/multiple choice style questions. This is great for analysis, but usually leads to more questions. For example, people were most supportive of closing the hiking trail when it was a female grizzly bear with cubs in the area versus a lone grizzly bear. Why? I have some ideas, but I need to know what people who use the park think. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned through these surveys it’s that how I see grizzly bears and the world is not necessarily how others do.
People were also less opposed to relocation than they were to aversive conditioning. Why? What is it about the details or perceptions of these two management options that make relocation a more appetizing option than aversive conditioning?
These preliminary results raised a few more questions about people’s motivations and perspectives while recreating in bear country. Questions that I would like to be able to answer in the final paper about visitor expectations of grizzly bear management. I’m going to do that through two focus group, which is where you come in.
Digging a little deeper – Focusing on the solutions
Grizzly bear management is fraught with controversy and most people who recreate in the National Parks have an opinion about it. That’s why I’m doing the visitor survey as part of this research in the first place. Digging a little deeper into the motivations and expectations of trail users will strengthen this research and help me understand the results and their implications. To do this, I’ll be hosting two focus groups – one in Calgary and one in Canmore.
The purpose of these gatherings will be to discuss potential answers to the questions above a few others that came out of the visitor survey data analysis. I want to understand what makes trail users feel the way they do about grizzly bears and their management. If you have thoughts or opinions on this, and hiked, biked, or walked a trail in Banff National Park in the summer/fall of 2013, I want to know what you think.
Focus groups are limited to 20 people so we can keep the discussion manageable. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if you can come out and participate.
Calgary Focus Group – Monday May 5 – 6:30-8:30pm
Canmore Focus Group – Wednesday May 7 – 6:30-8:30pm
Refreshments will even be provided! But more importantly, your opinion and thoughts will help shape grizzly bear research results in the place where you play and that’s important for you and the bears you share space with.
A big part of this research is working with the local community, and this is just another part of that. I hope to see you soon!!