Looking Back at Our Year
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.