Wildlife Biologist Aliah Adams Knopff's Advocacy for Bighorn Country, Alberta
I am a Wildlife Biologist and the Western Canada Coordinator for BHA (Backcountry Hunters and Anglers). My role is to support the Western Canadian chapters in the identification and promotion of conservation goals to defend our outdoor heritage and to help chapters advance policies that safeguard wild places and backcountry opportunities for future generations.
I did not grow up hunting, but hunting and wildlife biology went hand in hand for me. When I met my husband I started hunting with him occasionally, but it really didn’t become a central part of my life until we started a cougar study in Bighorn Country. We had volunteer field crews who were helping us conduct research on cougars for four months at a time. We thought that the very least we could do to show how grateful we were for the time and effort the volunteers were giving us was to provide meat to fuel the energy it takes to track and monitor cougars. So we spent each fall indulging in our passion for wildlife and the outdoors while also filling our freezers. The crews were really excited to have the game meat and there was at least one crewmember who went from vegetarian to hunter in her time with us.
Now hunting is an integral part of our family life and it remains a major focus of our activities every fall. I love teaching my kids about wildlife and the outdoors through hunting.
Bighorn Country, Alberta
I spent four years living in Bighorn Country. Three of those years were spent conducting research on cougars and I was in the field nearly every day. Following cougars and seeing where how they lived, where they traveled, and what they killed gave me an incredible perspective and some very fond memories. I will never forget the many places the cougars showed me, but one trip deep into the mountains really stands out. It was near the end of the project and my husband and I, who usually worked separately to maximize efficiency, spent four days together deep in the backcountry visiting the kill sites of a cougar who primarily killed bighorn sheep. We saw amazing wildlife and beautiful vistas, found mineral licks and fossils and had a great time reminiscing about the unique multi-year experience we had just shared and planning the future.
Albertans Take Action
The public lands that make up Bighorn Country are quite varied. In the west, the Bighorn Backcountry is one of the least disturbed areas along Alberta’s eastern slopes. The multi-user landscape to the east has pressure from a range of recreationists, industry and forestry. The proposal that the provincial government has put forward maintains the multi-user nature of the landscape while legislating designations that will allow for the conservation and improvement of fish and wildlife habitat and the preservation of backcountry opportunities. There are improvements that Alberta BHA would like to see to the proposal, the details of which can be found at https://www.backcountryhunters.org/bighorncountry, but overall the Bighorn Country Proposal is a win for hunters and anglers in the province. To make sure plans for Bighorn Country are approved, let the government know you support the proposal by filling out the survey (https://talkaep.alberta.ca/bighorn-country) or sending a letter to the minister of environment and parks.
Aliah Adams Knopff