WCS Canada uses scientific research to build the case for what needs to be done to help wildlife survive in a rapidly changing world. We focus on the need to protect key habitat and landscape connections, especially in large intact wild areas such as the far north in Ontario and the Northern Boreal Mountains of BC and Yukon. We have worked extensively with First Nations to advance a vision of how to protect the cultural and economic values in these and other areas and we work to support their conservation objectives with our science.
Today, WCS Canada continues to focus on building a scientific case for action to protect species:
- We are racing to develop a better understanding of western bat species before the arrival of a deadly disease – White-nose syndrome – that has killed millions of bats in eastern North America. We are also helping to develop a potential protective treatment for bats in the west.
- We spent seven winters surveying wolverine populations in the far north of Ontario to create a clearer picture of where wolverine are – and aren’t. This work can help us identify key wolverine habitat before development occurs in the far north of Ontario and better understand wolverine’s tolerance for human activities.
- We have also extensively surveyed boreal caribou populations in northern Ontario and have helped document the impact of human disturbance – particularly roads and forestry – on caribou survival. We played a central role in drafting the federal caribou recovery strategy under the Species at Risk Act and continue to press both the federal and provincial governments to take this innovative plan seriously.
- We have documented the potential impact of increased ship noise on whales and seals in the Arctic, where longer ice-free seasons will likely lead to a large increase in ship traffic. We have also built a scientific case for measures such as ship speed reductions or shifting sea lanes to help whales.
- We have undertaken an extensive study of the vulnerability of freshwater fish in northern Ontario to the impacts of climate change and how these impacts, combined with resource development, could harm valuable fisheries across the north unless we better manage cumulative impacts.
- For generations, Indigenous communities have been monitoring what takes place on their homelands. We are working with First Nations and the Inuvialuit to support community based monitoring as a way to document and address climate change and resource development impacts on their homelands.
- We have partnered with the Moose Cree First Nation to look at the impact of dams on freshwater fish and how these impacts could be reduced. Similarly, we are working with Inuit in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR) to assess seal diets and contaminants (as indicators of a changing Arctic ecosystem).
- We have analyzed the importance of Alberta’s Bighorn Backcountry, nestled next to Banff National Park, for species such as wolverine, grizzly bear, bighorn sheep and trout and are encouraging the Alberta government to establish a major new protected area in this richly diverse mountain region. We also provided key science for the establishment of the Castle Wildland Park in the same region.
- We are working to identify key resting and refuelling areas along Yukon’s Tintina Trench, a major migratory flyway for birds travelling from as far away as South America. Protecting key feeding and resting sites along migratory pathways is one way we can help to address the steady decrease in migratory bird populations.