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Publications

A plan for the North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat)

Author(s): Loeb, S.C., T.J. Rodhouse, L.E. Ellison, C.L. Lausen, J.D. Reichard, K.M. Irvine, T.E. Ingersoll, J.T.H. Coleman, W.E. Thogmartin, J.R. Sauer, C.M. Francis, M.L. Bayless, T.R. Stanley, and D.H. Johnson
Year: 2015

A Fork in the Road, Future Development in Ontario's Far North

Author(s): Cheryl Chetkiewicz and Matt Carlson
Journal: Wildlife Conservation Society Canada Collaborative Report
Year: 2013

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Latest Feature

Caribou a key test of federal resolve to protect species at risk

Check out our latest Muddy Boots Blog where WCS Canada President and Chief Scientist Dr. Justina Ray discusses how a good federal plan to save caribou has become stuck in the mud of provincial inaction.  In this blog, Dr. Ray debunks the myth that the science behind the federal recovery plan needs further review and explains why caribou simply can’t wait another five years for provinces to act.

 

Thank you for helping us help bats

Thanks to generous supporters like you, we met 80% of our fundraising goal
 to support critical bat conservation research in western Canada

This Halloween, WCS Canada’s supporters went above and beyond and raised an amazing $4000 in support of Bat Specialist, Cori Lausen and her team as they continue pioneering research that is helping to prevent white-nose syndrome (WNS) from killing western bats. 

The funds raised by our bat-lovers will go a long way to help us to cover the costs of essential research materials such SD memory cards for roost loggers, bat house occupancy monitors and lab costs such as the analysis of guano samples. 

From all of us at WCS Canada, we want to say a big “thank you” to our donors for supporting this important work. 

See the posts below to learn more about Dr. Lausen’s research and remember – it’s never too late to donate!

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Could bats benefit from a trip to the grocery store?

 


WCS Canada is investigating whether bats could benefit from the same probiotic approach that has taken foods like yogurt by storm.   The idea is relatively simple.  Bats are dying by the millions due to a fungal disease called White-nose syndrome (WNS).  If a “good bacteria” to fight the WNS fungus could be applied to bats, it might be possible to reverse at least some of the devastation being caused by the disease. WCS Canada bat researcher Dr. Cori Lausen is working with colleagues at Thompson Rivers University in B.C. and McMaster University in Ontario on developing just such a probiotic treatment for bats.  The goal is to create a probiotic dust that could be applied to bats as they leave summer roosts, such as on buildings.  The dust would help protect bats from WNS by inhibiting the growth of the fungus.  Thanks to extensive field research, we know that western bats do not gather in large colonies to hibernate during winter like eastern bats do, so an approach especially tailored to western bats is required.  See full press release here.

 


Efforts to Help Bats Survive Deadly Disease Get a Boost 

Nelson, BC (Sept. 18, 2017) – Research efforts aimed at identifying bat species or individual populations that may be able to survive the arrival of deadly White-nose Syndrome (WNS) received a boost this week with the announcement of $100,000 (U.S.) in new funding for cross-border bat science.

WNS is a devastating fungal disease that has wiped out millions of bats in eastern North America, triggering what is thought to be the fastest decline of wild mammals in history. Beyond eastern North America, infected bats were discovered in Washington State in 2016, leading scientists to anticipate that the disease may soon spread widely across the western half of the continent, including British Columbia and Alberta.

With WNS on western Canada’s doorstep, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (WCS Canada) and the University of Winnipeg are amplifying their efforts to understand which bat species and populations are most vulnerable to the disease, and where populations may be able to ride out the arrival of WNS and form the basis for an eventual bat recovery. See full press release here.

 

 

Urgent: Canada needs better environmental laws


Canada needs stronger environmental laws that help restore science and knowledge – and public input -- to our decision making processes around landscape altering projects such as roads, mines and pipelines.

The good news is that the federal government has been pursuing a plan to reform, among other things, the Environmental Assessment Act (EA).  WCS Canada has been very active in helping to frame what a renewed act should include, including a strong commitment for putting science front and centre in decision making and to clearly consider cumulative impacts through big-picture planning before development decisions are made.

But we need your help to make sure this opportunity does not go to waste.  We need you to send a message to your Member of Parliament supporting a strong EA law.  It’s easy – just click here to send your MP a message right now.

When your MP hears from you, they take notice and better understand the need to get it right when it comes to strengthening our currently outdated and inadequate environmental laws.  Your voice is important to ensure that MPs are not just hearing from those who want to protect the status quo.

Wood Buffalo Park: A World Heritage Site in danger

Wood Buffalo National Park, which straddles the Alberta-NWT border, is an area that can only be described with superlatives. To begin with, it is huge – 45,000 square kilometres, an area bigger than the Netherlands.  It contains one of the world’s largest inland freshwater deltas (the Peace River Delta) and protects the world’s only breeding ground for whooping cranes as well as the largest wild herd of bison on the planet.

But it is also troubled. Tar sands development to the south and hydro-electric development to the west have both seriously impacted water levels and flows within the park.  Tar sands mining and waste dumping has also led to a growing risk of contamination by toxics and air and water pollutants.  And these threats are growing. The massive Site C hydro dam project in British Columbia will have impacts that will be felt all the way upstream to the park.  New tar sands mines are also being developed on the Athabasca River in the remaining gap between the park and current mines and tailing ponds to the south.

WCS will be talking about how to address these issues at the United Nation’s World Heritage Committee conference in Krakow, Poland in early July.  Wood Buffalo is officially a World Heritage Site and thanks to the efforts of the Mikisew First Nation, UNESCO’s attention has been drawn to the deteriorating state of the park and the associated impacts on Indigenous people and wildlife. 

Recently, UNESCO sent a “Reactive Monitoring Mission” to see firsthand what is happening in Wood Buffalo. The mission was blunt in its assessment, stating "The mission fully agrees with most observers that continuation of the development approach of the last decades renders the future of (the park) uncertain at the very best."

Wood Buffalo is a perfect example of the need to look at the cumulative impacts of development decisions and not just individual projects or site-specific effects. WCS Canada has been urging the federal government to reform its outdated environmental assessment process and to make better use of tools such as Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA - Parks Canada has now agreed to conduct an SEA for Wood Buffalo on the recommendation of the monitoring team).  For Wood Buffalo, such an approach could make a big difference by forcing decision makers to finally acknowledge that we can’t keep piling on problems for key wild areas. 

WCS will be looking for a strong response from the Canadian government in Krakow, one that shows it is serious about avoiding having Wood Buffalo listed as a World Heritage Site in Danger.

Photograph from: Parks Canada 

 

Bighorn Backcountry of Alberta: Protecting Vulnerable Wildlife and Precious Waters


A new scientific analysis by Wildlife Conservation Society Canada has identified a conservation gem nestled beside the two crown jewels of the Rocky Mountain national park system. The area, known as the Bighorn Backcountry, lies just east of Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta and represents one of the most ecologically important areas in the province’s Eastern Slopes region. 

Based on findings about the importance of this region to wildlife, clean water and recreation, WCS Canada is calling on the Alberta Government to designate the area as a Provincial Wildland Park in keeping with its recent commitment to conserve at least 17 percent of the province’s land base.

A Wildland Park in the Bighorn Backcountry would protect spawning habitat critical to bull trout (Alberta’s provincial fish); cliffs and slopes used by bighorn sheep, especially during the tough winter period; secluded areas for grizzly bear females that can be killed or displaced from prime feeding sites near secondary roads; and denning habitat for wolverines, which may increasingly need to move to higher altitudes to find deep snow.  It would also protect the headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River, a critical water source for much of Central Alberta. Read the full report and the news release

Securing a Wild Future for Yukon's Boreal Mountains

Yukon’s Boreal Mountains region adds a whole dimension to Canada’s most iconic forest.  Here snow capped mountains and alpine plateaus are perched above broad river valleys rich with life.  The region is a haven for predators and prey alike, from grizzly bears and wolves to sheep and moose.  There are few other places left in the world that have been so little changed by human development.  That’s why we need a plan to protect the wild in this globally important region.  As a first step, WCS Canada has developed a major new report assessing options for creating a network of conservation lands in the region.  We examined thousands of possibilities to map out the best networks for keeping the wild alive in this vast region. Yukoners love the outdoors and having wild places on their doorstep.  We wanted to help them understand what needs to be done to keep ecosystems intact and wildlife populations healthy.  Read the full reportnews release.
Check out the interview Hilary Cooke did for CBC and the blog she wrote that's posted on huffpost. 

WCS Canada Annual report 2016

At WCS Canada, we are working to help wildlife survive – and thrive – across our huge country. Our gorgeous new annual report captures both the beauty of wildlife and the challenges we face in ensuring their survival across Canada.  From caribou to ice seals, we explain how WCS Canada scientists are using the insights gained from long hours in the field to shape conservation and land-use plans and to help species survive. We also look at how we can take action now to prevent big problems later, such as designing cutting-edge conservation networks for the still-wild Northern Boreal Mountains in Yukon or helping bats in Western Canada survive and recover after the arrival of a deadly disease that has already swept through eastern North America.  Have a look at our wild world and please share this important work with your friends and colleagues!

 

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