JASON STRAKA, ecol­o­gist

Canadian Geographic - - WOOD BUFFALO - —As told to Michela Rosano

As I was bump­ing over the frozen Peace-athabasca Delta on my snow­mo­bile this past win­ter, my eyes were search­ing the ground for muskrat lodges. The delta is an in­ter­est­ing place. It can feel like it goes on for­ever, and it’s got some real en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues: there’s oil­sands de­vel­op­ment up­stream and a hy­dro­elec­tric dam nearby. Two Cree guides go with me to help spot these muskrat dens and, to­gether with the Fort Chipewyan com­mu­nity, they’ve helped my team iden­tify a dwin­dling muskrat pop­u­la­tion. The field­work we con­duct over our three-day treks across this land­scape will help de­ter­mine why that’s hap­pen­ing. For me, this tour is also another kind of learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence; the guides, each over the age of 50, have such im­mense knowl­edge of this land and how to live on it. I’m lucky to get a glimpse of that.


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