May 16 marks the launch of the 16th Annual North American Caribou Workshop and for the first time in two decades this year the workshop is in Ontario. Taking place in Thunder Bay, the workshop is the foremost conference of its kind, addressing caribou biology, research and management.
This year’s workshop theme is Connections: exploring the link between people, disciplines and ecosystems to further caribou conservation and management. More than 250 people from science, academia, indigenous communities, NGOs, government, and practitioners – drawn by their common interest in caribou – will assemble to share their knowledge, ideas, stories, and most recent discoveries.
Highlights of the workshop include:
· An opening plenary session, featuring distinguished scientists whose wealth of expertise spans the continent moderated by Paul Kennedy, host of CBC Radio’s Ideas. Each of four speakers will draw on their experiences to decipher the science, tell a story that conveys a key lesson, and contribute to a lively panel discussion led by Mr. Kennedy. This will be followed by a special session from presenters providing indigenous perspectives on conservation, co-management, and connections to communities.
· An evening public event where speakers will offer a glimpse into the life, ecology and challenges of caribou, with a particular focus on boreal caribou of northwestern Ontario. A hands-on event for families and youth will feature the opportunity to view and touch specimens and samples of caribou and their predators, view videos on caribou ecology and conservation, and participate in educational and fun activities related to ecology and conservation.
· Over 90 presentations and posters by researchers and practitioners from government, universities, non-governmental organizations, and industry.
To understand caribou demands diverse points of view. Caribou are able to thrive in a wide variety of demanding environments, including arctic seashores, polar deserts, mountaintops, boreal forests, continental taiga, and windswept tundra. However, across North America caribou are challenged by human activities that have altered these northern landscapes. This conference will provide a discussion forum to confront these challenges and fill gaps in knowledge and understanding of this fascinating animal.
WCS Canada has been one of the event organizers this year, with our president, Justina Ray -- a recognized authority on caribou -- serving on the organizing committee to help shape the program and serve as fiscal agent with critical support from Assistant Director Gillian Woolmer.
Photo credits: Banner | William Halliday © WCS Canada