Muddy Boots Blog

Muddy Boots is our internal blog where our staff members share experiences getting their boots muddy with on-the-ground conservation research! You can find our contributions to external blogs and Op Eds here.

Ontario turns Endangered Species Act into an empty shell

Ontario turns Endangered Species Act into an empty shell
(May 10, 2019) By Justina Ray A UN scientific report detailing the growing global biodiversity crisis says that the Earth could lose one million species over the decades ahead. It confirms that we are in the midst of the sixth great wave of extinctions to have swept the Earth, but this time, the wave is the result of human activities and will require a major change in direction from human societies to save species.The Ontario Government chose this inauspicious moment to introduce major revisions...

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Wading in: WCS research scientist Liset Cruz-Font paints a picture of life in the field

Wading in: WCS research scientist Liset Cruz-Font paints a picture of life in the field
(February 18, 2019) I have been going out into the field for more than 20 years, starting in Cuba, and now in Canada. Coming to WCS Canada to work on lake sturgeon telemetry – tracking tagged fish remotely using receivers – was a dream job for me. What would I need to do?  Everything that I love. First, work with (and be part of) a great team of diverse people. Second, uncover the mysterious movements of lake sturgeon, that ancient fish that has managed to survive for millennia while swim...

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The many strands of WCS Canada's research in the far north in Ontario

The many strands of WCS Canada's research in the far north in Ontario
(September 21, 2018) One of the reasons that I like fieldwork is that it always involves learning new skills, and often these are obscure skills that I never expected I would need in my career as a biologist. As an example, this summer I found myself sitting on a grassy riverbank near the shores of James Bay, wearing my full rain gear on a sunny day as protection against the relentless blackflies, learning to splice rope. Splicing rope involves braiding strands of rope together to join two ropes or to form a loop at...

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A northern spring: hope for the birds, and for me

A northern spring: hope for the birds, and for me
(July 16, 2018) You hear them long before you see them: a raspy, gurgling call builds on the horizon. Sandhill cranes. Hundreds, even thousands, flying in endless branching formations or circling on a rising thermal. Over a period of less than two weeks in early May, an estimated 250,000 will follow Yukon’s Tintina Trench, traveling from wintering sites in the southern U.S. toward breeding sites in western Alaska and Siberia.     Sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) migrate in large ...

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Bees have a big job to do -- and they could use a hand

Bees have a big job to do -- and they could use a hand
(July 06, 2018) Did you know that the majority of the roughly 4,000 North American bee species live alone, can’t sting you, and nest in the ground?It is more than likely that you have crossed paths with a bee already this summer. They are everywhere, but many of them don’t look anything like the classic black-and-yellow bee on your bottle of honey or box of Cheerios. Some are much larger and more colourful. Many are similar in size to flies and lack distinctive colouration. Others are the size of a ...

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Birds, birds, and more birds: A migration moment like no other

Birds, birds, and more birds: A migration moment like no other
(May 11, 2018) By: Hilary Cooke It’s our fourth week monitoring spring migration in Yukon’s Tintina Trench. Since mid-April we’ve been travelling between Watson Lake in southeast Yukon to Faro in the heart of the Trench, tracking the migration of swans, geese, ducks, and cranes.  Sandhill cranes and the smaller snow geese migrating through Yukon’s Tintina Trench in spring. Credit Hilary CookeIt’s been a slow spring – by early May the lakes were still frozen, t...

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A serendipitous stumble: My journey to becoming a wildlife conservation biologist

A serendipitous stumble: My journey to becoming a wildlife conservation biologist
(March 05, 2018) By: Rosana SoaresMy journey to becoming a wildlife conservation biologist did not follow a long-planned career path – it was really something I stumbled into.  But that “stumble” is what led me to the Amazon, and to where I am today.   Ever since I was young I have been fascinated by all things animal. And while I always imagined I’d have a career dedicated to helping animals, I thought my only career option was to become a veterinarian, which for me w...

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Watching, listening, and learning: Community-based monitoring and Indigenous Knowledge in a Changing World

Watching, listening, and learning: Community-based monitoring and Indigenous Knowledge in a Changing World
(February 21, 2018) By: Cheryl Chetkiewicz Between 1962 and 1970, the Reed International pulp mill company dumped 10 tonnes of mercury into the English-Wabigoon River watershed at the mill site in Dryden. Downstream from Dryden, people in the community of Asubpeeschoseewagong—known to settlers as Grassy Narrows First Nation—have been living with, and dying from, the impacts of this potent neurotoxin.   In addition to mercury accumulating in the freshwater fish that are a vital part of the cult...

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Why we need to quickly close the gap between words and actions in Canada’s new Impact Assessment Act

Why we need to quickly close the gap between words and actions in Canada’s new Impact Assessment Act
(February 16, 2018) By: Justina Ray and Cheryl Chetkiewicz   The federal government tabled a much anticipated new bill called the Impact Assessment Act last week. This act replaces the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA 2012) as part of a process the government announced 18 months ago with the stated goals of restoring public trust, making decisions based on evidence, advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and simultaneously ensuring good projects get built. A particula...

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Muddy Boots in the Boardroom: WCS Canada's approach to protecting iconic wildlife species and spaces. A board member's perspective.

(January 08, 2018) By: Dr. Sherman Boates, WCS Canada Board of Directors   It is the ‘muddy boots” part of science that first got me and many of my WCS Canada colleagues hooked on wildlife and the environment.  As a child, I was a nature nerd, captivated for hours on summer days, playing in a stream or pond, catching and observing fish, amphibians and invertebrates. I also recall the relentless hooting of barred owls as I sat by a late winter campfire in a back-country sugar maple forest...

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Photo credits: Banner | Lila Tauzer © WCS Canada

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