We Stand for Wildlife


‘Death by a thousand clearcuts’: Canada’s deep-snow caribou are vanishing

Justina Ray, President and Senior Scientist of WCS Canada, lays some of the blame for the demise of Canada’s deep-snow caribou herds on piecemeal decision-making. “Each action, each development, is considered one one at a time. Not in a broader context,” she says. “And that’s how we’ve always done business. It’s the tyranny of small decisions. And so it just nibbles away, and there’s no overall responsibility and restraint at the appropriate scale.”

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White-nose syndrome has killed millions of bats. The fungus that causes it is now in Alberta

A fungus that causes a disease that is nearly wiping out bat populations in Eastern Canada and the U.S. has made its first appearance in Alberta. The fungus has been identified in several locations in the province after being found in Saskatchewan in 2021. WCS Canada researchers traced the fungus by collecting bat droppings from underneath 800 bridges where the tiny mammals like to rest during the night.

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WCS Canada scientists get their boots muddy studying wildlife and wild places across Canada in hopes of spurring action to address our growing biodiversity crisis.

The door to a better biodiversity future is now open

Convention on Biological Diversity negotiations produce a solid deal that lays the groundwork for more ambitious efforts to address the biodiversity crisis in Canada and around the world.

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Peatland scientists from around the world call for urgent action

The statement, led by WCS Canada's Forests, Peatlands and Climate Lead Dr. Lorna Harris, has a simple call-to-action: Protect the world’s remaining high-integrity peatlands, and restore those that have been degraded. Act as if our future depends on it – because it does.

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Latest publications

Nesting Ecology of the Barn Swallow on Agriultural Lands in Yukon
ince the 1980s, the abundance of the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rus-tica) in North America, including the far north, has declined. To better understand the species’ biology north of 60° N, near the northern limit of its range, and in a region of expanding agriculture, we studied its nesting ecology on farms in southern Yukon Territory, Canada, in 2019 and 2020. We followed 21 attempted nests in 2019, 20 in 2020, of which 52% and 60%, respectively, were inside buildings with permanently open entrances. Other nests were built on the outside of buildings. In both years we inferred successful double brooding by three pairs, which is rarely reported north of 60°N latitude. We found the swallows’ reproductive output to be similar to that at temperate latitudes: first clutches ranged from three to six eggs (mean 4.8 in 2019; 4.2 in 2020); second clutches may have averaged marginally smaller (n = 6). The mean number of fledglings per nest was 3.3 in 2019 and 3.0 in 2020. Twenty-one percent of nests failed, either by falling off a vertical substrate or because of predation by deer mice (Peromyscus spp.), Black-billed Magpies (Pica hudsonia), or domestic cats. We also compared the air temperatures at nests, usually near building roofs, to ambient temperatures, finding them on average 1.6°C warmer than temperatures outside buildings. We set out 33 platforms and 20 wooden cups designed for Barn Swallow nesting but over the two years of our study the birds did not use any of them.
Microbial isolates with Anti‑Pseudogymnoascus destructans activities from Western Canadian bat wings
Forsythe, A. et al. (incl. Lausen, C.L.). 2022. Scientific Reports 12:9895
Efficacy and ethics of intensive predator management to save endangered caribou
Johnson, C.J., Ray, J.C and St-Laurent, M-H. 2022. Conservation Science and Practice e12729
Developing a national level evidence-based toolbox for addressing freshwater biodiversity threats
Reid et al. (incl. O'Connor, C.M.). 2022. Biological Conservation 269:109533
Coupling validation effort with in situ bioacoustic data improves estimating relative activity and occupancy for multiple species with cross-species misclassifications
Stratton, C. et al (incl. Lausen, C. and Rae, J. ). 2022. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 2022;00:1-16.
Quantifying firebrand production and transport using the acoustic analysis of in-fire cameras.
Quantifying firebrand production and transport using the acoustic analysis of in-fire cameras. Thompson, D. K. et al. (incl. Yip, D.A.) Fire Technology
Activity, heart rate, and energy expenditure of a cold-climate mesocarnivore, the Canada lynx
Menzies, A. et al. (incl. Seguin, J.). 2022 Canadian Journal of Zoology
Evaluating ecosystem services for agricultural wetlands: a systematic review and meta‑analysis
Evaluating ecosystem services for agricultural wetlands: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Eric, A. et al. (incl. Mantyka-Pringle, C.) Wetlands Ecology and Management

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WCS Canada newsletter

WCS Canada's newsletters have stories about our scientists in the field, interesting insights about wildlife and important conservation alerts.

Read our latest edition:  Celebrating Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), and a whale of a story about arctic shipping noise

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Latest policy comments

Joint Letter About Proposed Ontario Offsetting Policy ERO 019-6161
We, the 56 undersigned organizations, are deeply concerned about the proposed development of a natural heritage offsetting policy in the context of current major legislative and policy changes that are eroding environmental protections across the province (e.g. , changes to the Conservation Authorities Act, the Planning Act, and the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System, removal of lands from the Greenbelt). Although the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is proposing a net-gain approach, decades of evidence suggest that even no net loss is rarely achieved through offsetting. We urge extreme caution should MNRF choose to proceed, and request that you strike an expert panel to advise on policy options and carry out full Indigenous and public consultation on the draft policy if and when it is developed.
Request for Time Limit Extension from Marten Falls FN to the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada
WCS Canada comments on the Request for Extension Report, prepared by AECOM Canada Ltd. and Dillon Consulting Ltd. on behalf of Marten Falls First Nation as the Proponent for the purpose of the Impact Assessment (IA) of the Marten Falls First Nation All Season Community Access Road (MFCAR) Project. In summary, we support the request by the Proponent for an extension of three and a half years to July 24, 2026. Of the factors listed in Section 2, we agree in particular that COVID-19 had significant impacts on First Nations communities in the far north in Ontario and have concerns that the Proponent chose not to pause the MFCAR Project despite First Nation community requests to do so given health and safety concerns, capacity, and social crises. We continue to think this experience highlights the limitations of impact assessment as a tool for social justice in northern Ontario.
WCS Canada Comments on DFO Cumulative Effects Position Statement
We are pleased that the updated Fisheries Act (2019) has included renewed commitments to protect fish and fish habitat, strengthens the role of Indigenous knowledge informing habitat decisions, establishes a public registry, and includes recognition of principles of sustainability, the precautionary principle, ecosystem management, and consideration of cumulative effects. We share the concern with DFO that failing to adequately consider cumulative effects will lead to continued loss of fish habitat in Canada, and we are pleased that DFO is working to better address cumulative effects. However, we have an overarching concern that the draft Position Statement falls short of providing clear and actionable guidance for the implementation of considering cumulative effects under the new Fisheries Act. Therefore, this document contains: 1) a description of our concerns on the draft Position Statement and our corresponding recommended revisions to strengthen the Position Statement (p. 2), and 2) our recommendations for implementation in the Yukon and northern Ontario -- two landscapes where we have regional expertise (p. 5).

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Photo credits: Banner | Susan Morse © News | Mountain landscape: Susan Morse ©,  River: Maitland Conservation Authority ©, Caribou: Don Reid © WCS Canada, Peatlands: Mike Oldham  | Bat with WNS © NPS/Creative Commons License  | Mosaic: Northern Mountains: Hilary Cooke © WCS Canada, Wolverine: Susan Morse ©. Brook Trout: Engbretson Underwater Photography ©, Bat: Cory Olson ©, Wild Places: Hilary Cooke © WCS Canada, Ontario River: Constance O'Connor © WCS Canada, Caribou: Susan Morse © | Black-capped chickadee © Malcolm Boothroyd | Yukon mining: Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle © WCS Canada.