Look­ing Back at Our Year

Canadian Wildlife - - FROM CWF - Rick J. Bates CEO, Cana­dian Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion

At the Cana­dian Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion, 2017 has been a year of some great highs and lows. We were proud to join with Cana­di­ans to cel­e­brate the 150th an­niver­sary of Con­fed­er­a­tion through a se­ries of bioblitzes as part of Bioblitz Canada 150, which was one of 38 of­fi­cial Canada 150 sig­na­ture projects sup­ported by gov­ern­ment. Thirty-five bioblitzes were held in prov­inces and ter­ri­to­ries across the coun­try, where sci­en­tists and mem­bers of the gen­eral pub­lic joined to­gether to iden­tify and record ev­ery species they could find in a spe­cific area, cre­at­ing Canada’s “na­ture-selfie.” Also, our Hin­ter­land Who’s Who pro­gram re­leased a se­ries of new videos show­cas­ing some of the iconic wildlife that played an im­por­tant role in the coun­try’s his­tory, such as the beaver, At­lantic cod and Pa­cific sal­mon. We were ex­cited to be part of the Canada 150 cel­e­bra­tions to mark this mile­stone year.

Sadly, how­ever, this fall, we lost a friend and long­time CWF board mem­ber Pierre La­tra­verse. Pierre was an ar­dent con­ser­va­tion­ist who brought his ex­per­tise in Que­bec con­ser­va­tion is­sues to the na­tional level and acted as a cat­a­lyst to pro­mote and sup­port na­tional con­ser­va­tion and ed­u­ca­tion ini­tia­tives. At our an­nual awards ban­quet in June, we were pleased to present Pierre with CWF’S Roland Mich­ener Con­ser­va­tion Award in recog­ni­tion of his tremen­dous con­tri­bu­tions, which were high­lighted in the Septem­ber/oc­to­ber is­sue of this mag­a­zine.

Pierre had a pas­sion­ate com­mit­ment to con­ser­va­tion in the St. Lawrence re­gion, where this past sum­mer we lost so many right whales. Eleven of the 14 right whales that died this sum­mer were found in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This is an area that has not been reg­u­larly sur­veyed for right whales, though some ob­ser­va­tions have been recorded. This year, how­ever, many aerial sur­veys were done to look for right whales in the gulf and to help guide fu­ture ac­tiv­i­ties.

As Kerry Banks points out in his ar­ti­cle “High-tech Con­ser­va­tion” on page 30, there is a lot of knowl­edge to be dis­cov­ered through the use of newer tech­nolo­gies that al­low us to ex­plore and learn more about dif­fi­cult-to-chart wildlife move­ments and be­hav­iours. For the past two sum­mers, CWF has been part of an ex­cit­ing project called WHALE (Whale, Habi­tat and Learn­ing Ex­per­i­ment). Our part­ners placed glid­ers (self-pi­loted un­der­wa­ter drones) equipped with hy­drophones (un­der­wa­ter mi­cro­phones) into the At­lantic Ocean with the goal of de­tect­ing where the whales are. When the hy­drophones hear a whale, in­for­ma­tion about the type of whale and lo­ca­tion is trans­mit­ted back to the Whale, Fish and Par­ti­cle Lab at Dal­housie Univer­sity. It is hoped that in the fu­ture, this in­for­ma­tion can be sent to ship­ping and other ves­sel traf­fic to re­duce the risk of col­li­sions. This type of progress is en­cour­ag­ing and can lead to bet­ter wildlife man­age­ment and de­ci­sions.

Canada 150 pro­vides us with an op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate con­ser­va­tion suc­cesses, ex­am­ine cur­rent chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties, and chart our path for­ward for a coun­try rich in wildlife, habi­tat and bio­di­ver­sity for gen­er­a­tions to come. As we close out Canada’s 150th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions, at the end of Novem­ber CWF will host a Na­tional Con­ser­va­tion Sum­mit. It will bring to­gether peo­ple with a broad range of per­spec­tives on wildlife: en­vi­ron­men­tal groups, Indige­nous lead­ers, hunt­ing and an­gling or­ga­ni­za­tions, academia, in­dus­try and gov­ern­ment, all work­ing to cre­ate in­no­va­tive ac­tions that will help chart a promis­ing fu­ture for con­ser­va­tion in Canada.

On be­half of the CWF board of di­rec­tors, staff and sup­port­ers across Canada, I wish you the very best of the hol­i­day sea­son.

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